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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

More than 2,000 Long Islanders enjoyed the festivities at Captree State Park as Assemblyman Joseph Saladino hosted the ninth annual Marine and Outdoor Recreation Expo on Sept. 15.

Attendees learned about sustainable sources of energy as well as ways to protect the planet, especially the island’s marine environment. There were demonstrations in camping, boating, water safety, renewable energy, wildlife and environmental education, fly fishing, arts and crafts, face painting, clowns, touch tanks, ballon animals and plenty of rock and roll.

The founders of the popular Facebook group “Massapequa Moms,” a ‘virtual living room with 6,700 people,’ are leveraging their social media power to create a new discount loyalty card good all over Long Island—including, they hope, in Farmingdale.

With a hugely popular Facebook community, co-founders Dawn Boyle Kostakis and Stephanie Hartman wanted to “figure out a way that we could help the consumer and the business owner at the same time; keeping commerce going, keeping it all local and having the people get a little bang for their buck,” said Kostakis. They wanted to serve more than just Massapequa, too, and the Long Island Loyalty card was born.


Sports

Farmingdale squeaks by Massapequa

The rivalry between the Farmingdale Dalers and the Massapequa Chiefs is a big one. So big that the school districts and the Nassau County Police Department had to take extra precautions to maintain security. Not everyone who wanted to see this game at Masspequa High School were allowed access to the game. In the past, there was some unruly behavior. So, if you were from Farmingdale you parked on the right side of the school and from Massapequa you were on the left. The stands on both side were full and hundreds standing along the fence to watch this game.

The Chiefs would score first in the first quarter with a 9-yard run by Paul Dilena for a touchdown. The Dalers had some problems moving the ball down field until Daler Danny Mckeon intercepted a pass and ran it back into the Chiefs side of the field. This would set up a 6-yard run for a touchdown for Michael Outing who had 19 carries for 84 yards. With the score tied 7-7, Zach Kolodny kicked a 22-yard field goal to put the Dalers up 10-7 shortly before  halftime and the heavy rain that followed.

Town sports shifts to hockey

It’s almost time to hit the ice again.

The Town of Oyster Bay Youth Ice Hockey Program will hold its registration on Monday, Oct. 6 and Wednesday, Oct. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. on both nights. Registration takes place at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center in Bethpage.

“The Youth Ice Hockey Program provides youngsters, ages three to 13, with the opportunity to hone their skating and hockey skills under the guidance of ice hockey coaches,” Councilman Joe Pinto stated. “The highly regarded program has earned it recognition by the NHL, which has partnered with the Town to promote hockey programming and youth enrichment through its ‘Hockey is For Everyone’ initiative.”


Calendar

Junior Varsity Football At Baldwin High School

Saturday, September 27

Girls Varsity Tennis At Malverne High School

Tuesday, September 30

Boys Varsity Volleyball Versus Massapequa High School

Wednesday, October 1



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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