State Officials Examine Trees for Signs of Worrisome Pest 

If you live on Bangor’s West Side, you may have noticed folks wandering the streets Thursday, studying the trees.They were looking for a species of beetle that experts say could seriously impact the Maine economy if it arrives here.Amy Erickson has the story.Believe it or not, this little pest can cause some very big problems.The Asian Longhorned Beetle has devastated communities across the country…the closest is Worcester, Massachusetts.Folks from the Maine Department of Agriculture are doing their best to keep the pest out of the Pine Tree State.”We want to try and find it quicker than they did in MA, so that we could control it easier.””If it did become established, we could lose a lot of our hardwood species.”Entomologist Karen Coluzzi led a team of folks who spent Thursday scouring Bangor’s West Side.They examined trees for signs of the beetle, like dime-sized holes in the tree’s bark.Bangor’s City Forester, Brian Dugas, also took part in the survey. He wants to be proactive, since chances are, the pest will eventually make its way to Maine.”This is an extremely serious pest. They say it’s going to be worse than the dutch elm disease and some of the other insects that have come into the country.””We have approximately 8,000 trees in the city that are susceptible to this pest…so there would be some major changes in how the city streets look if this pest is able to do what it’s done to the city of Worcester.”And it’s not just trees at stake.Maine’s economy could also suffer.”If it gets into the maple sugar producers around here, it could be devastating for those people.””The tourism industry could be impacted because a lot of the fall tourists come to look at the beautiful colors hardwoods give out in the fall.”Dugas says the best way to keep that from happening is to be on the lookout for the pests…now…”It probably is inevitable that it is going to make it up this way at some point. So we want to be proactive.”They surveyed 1000 trees. There were no definitive signs of the beetles. A few trees are labeled suspicious and will continue to be monitored.