Written by GEF guest blogger Rhonda Santos, Public Information Officer, USDA APHIS Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program
Teach children that super heroes aren’t just in comic books.
Whether it’s a game of hide and seek, or a get away on a sunny day – we all have that childhood memory of a favorite tree and now children can be part of keeping those memories. We want our trees to stay strong and healthy for future generations, which is why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared August as Tree Check Month. It’s the chance to teach children about the impact they can have by taking 10 minutes to check the trees in your backyard or favorite park that could be at risk from a devastating pest called the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).
The beetle has led to the loss of more than 80,000 trees, and more than 70 percent of your community’s tree canopy could be lost too. The good news is that anyone – especially children – can help in the effort to stop this beetle. Having as many eyes looking for and reporting the ALB is our best line of defense.
Here are three ways children and families can get involved in saving trees this August:
1. Participate in the ALB Hunt.
The ALB Hunt is a series of activities designed to encourage children to enjoy the outdoors and learn how they can save their communities trees. It includes an ALB Hunt video and two worksheets that teach them how to identify the kinds of trees that are at risk from the ALB, as well as the signs that a tree has been infested by an ALB. All of the materials are free for families and educators to download.
2. Send an ALB Postcard.
Children are encouraged to get friends and family members involved with Tree Check Month by sending an ALB Postcard during the month of August, reminding others to check their trees to be sure they are healthy and strong. The postcard is free to download and includes a game to get people ready to search for the ALB.
3. Go on a tree check walk.
Take a stroll through your neighborhood or a hike in the woods and encourage your children to check the trees around them for signs of trouble.
What should children be looking for?
1. Dime-sized (1/4” or larger), perfectly round exit holes
2. Shallow scars in bark where the eggs are laid
3. Sawdust-like materials, called frass, on the ground and the branches
4. Dead branches
5. The actual beetle
Spend August giving back to the trees that play such an important part in our lives. It’s a great excuse to get outside and teach children how they can help save something that is at the heart of the outdoors.
For more activities or if you see any signs or symptoms of the ALB, report it immediately. Visit www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com, to report your sightings or call the toll free hotline at 1-866-702-9938.