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‘Landscape-Altering’ Bug Creeping North

It’s a cute little ‘bug.’ What it represents, however, is anything but cute.

An unusual-looking Volkswagen is toodling around Long Island this month. Painted to resemble the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), the VW Beetle is part of efforts by the US Department of Agriculture to eliminate the pest, which can destroy 70 percent of an area’s tree canopy, according to the agency. Initially, officials held hope for complete eradication from about 23 square miles of LI designated as infested or at risk by 2016. Instead, this “landcape-altering pest” is spreading.

“In 2008 we had gone several years with no signs of Asian longhorned beetle,” explains Joseph Gittleman, who oversees the federal agency’s ALB eradication on Long Island. “Then in August 2013 we had a live sighting reported, and through further investigations found a large infestation outside the quarantine area.” Unfortunately, he adds, “It went undetected and unreported by anybody for six, seven years or more.”

In mid-April, the USDA put another 28 square miles of Long Island into the Asian longhorned beetle regulated area, more than doubling the land under quarantine. The bug seems to be spreading north along the Route 110 corridor and east/west along the Southern State Parkway, with big infestations at cemetaries such as St. Charles in Farmingdale and Mt. Ararat in Lindenhurst. The Massapequas, Bethpage, Wheatley Heights and Farmingdale are among the communities designated at risk.

“It’s a tremendous area to cover,” Gittleman says, “and our staffing is a lot thinner.” The agency has a staff of 48 to cover all of Long Island; they test high-risk locations, primarily mulch yards and industrial areas that receive imports from China. Gittleman says it’s not clear whether the expansion they’re seeing is a new infestation or an extension of the original one.

And no area is immune, as the current expansion demonstrates. It is easy to transport contaminated firewood or mulch unknowingly from infested areas to other parts of the island.

Officials are seeking the public’s help to ensure that doesn’t happen again. Late summer/early fall are the best time to spot the beetles; that’s when adults come out. You can also look for signs of their presence, such as exit holes or stuff they push out (photos). Gittleman encourages citizens who think they may have seen one to call it in, preferably after shooting a quick photo, although staff can usually tell if what you see is an ALB based on a phone conversation. Gittleman says most calls turn out to be local native beetles that look similar to the ALB. Don’t let that discourage you from calling at the slightest suspicion, as in this instance an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of tree bark. These bugs enjoy a range of hardwoods, including species of ash, plane tree, poplar, willow, birch, elm and even the sugar maple—our state tree. Also, if you live or work in the quarantine area, take care not to move wood of any kind to another part of the Island. The bugs may not be visible, but buried deep in the wood.

Otherwise, the primary solution is to remove trees—as of March 31 this year, 6,381 infested trees and more than 12,000 high-risk host trees have been taken down in New York state due to ALB concerns. The program is not using pesticides this year. Report sightings at http://asianlonghornedbeetle.com

And if you do spot an actual bug, kill it! They are harmless to humans. One LI homeowner recently reported one, but not before setting the little guy free to breed and eat more trees.

News

Driving rain and cold temperatures could not keep Long Islanders from coming out to support the first annual DogFest Walk ‘n Roll, a fundraiser for Canine Companions for Independence. Held for the first time at Marjorie Post Park in nearby Massapequa, dogs of all breeds and sizes came with their humans with one goal in mind; to raise funds for CCI.

 

Event organizer Yvonne Dagger, past president and now board member, discussed the importance of the event. 

It’s been more than 50 years since the Farmingdale High School class of 1964 roamed the halls of their beloved high school, but that doesn’t mean that the memories have faded. The class—the first to graduate from Farmingdale High—came together on Saturday, October 18 at the Marriott in Islandia to celebrate all of the good times past and make new memories as a class.  


Sports

3rd Grade Division

The Giants and Jets met for the 2nd time this season, with the Giants again getting the victory over the Jets.  Jalen Gordon scored late into the 1st half for the Giants, which turned out to be the only points in the half.  The Giants shut the Jets down for both halves, keeping the offense off the board.  The Jets strong point this weekend was the defense, with Kyle June and Jake Kuller picking up the weekly William June Foundation awards.  In what is turning into a rough offensive season for the Jets, these awards continue to remind the boys of the perseverance and determination of the award’s namesake and his “never say quit” attitude.

 

—Submitted by Paul Caputo


William Merola, a member of the Farmingdale School District’s wrestling program, was recently selected to attend the third annual U.S. Marine Corps Summer Leadership and

Character Development program, which is limited to 150 sophomores and juniors throughout the nation.

 

Over the summer, from July 20-26, Merola attended the third annual Marine Corps recruiting command summer leadership and character academy at the USMC base in Quantico. 

 

The SLCDA (Summer Leadership and Character Development Program) educates high school leaders about Marine Corps Officer Programs by participating in classroom academics, ethics training, accelerated college prep, physical fitness training, a field exercise, a community service component and a field trip to Washington, D.C.


Calendar

Networking Event - October 29

Halloween Parade - October 31

Holiday Craft and Vendor Fair - November 2


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com