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By August 23, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

Pool side science! Calling all owners


The NYS ALB Pool Survey

By Amber Merrell, Outreach Coordinator, NYSDEC Division of Lands & Forests

Pool owners are invited to join New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in the third annual Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) Swimming Pool Survey from July until the end of August.

The idea behind the pool survey is simple: Insects often land or fall in bodies of water, such as swimming pools, and are unable to escape. If ALBs are in the area, some may end up in a pool and become trapped in filters, where they can be easily found and collected. Participants in the pool survey are asked to collect any beetles found while cleaning pool filters and strainers. Collected specimens can be photographed or sealed in a hard-walled container and sent to the DEC diagnostic lab for identification.

Pool monitoring offers a simple, economical alternative to traditional procedures for surveying ALB infestations in the state, which often require a lot of time, work-hours and transportation costs. In 2013, a new ALB infestation on Long Island was discovered by a homeowner who became aware of the beetle through the pool survey program. Having citizens volunteer to survey their swimming pools greatly increases the number of eyes on the ground and the overall effectiveness of survey efforts without increasing costs. This results in a better chance of finding new infestations early, which will help DEC and other state and federal agencies focus their efforts to eliminate infestations.

Citizen science initiatives have become increasingly more popular and utilizing these resources has the potential to greatly aid in the fight against invasive species. Citizen science can help the public become more interested, knowledgeable, and willing to engage by supplying specific actions and measurable results. The pool survey program gives residents across the state the ability to take an active role in protecting the trees in their yards, communities and forests by taking simple actions that do not require large amounts of time, money, or experience.

ALBs were unintentionally introduced into the U.S. from Asia, most likely in the 1980s or ‘90s, in wooden packing pallets and crates. Since its introduction to this country, ALB has caused the death of tens of thousands of trees across the nation. This deadly invasive infests a variety of hardwood species, but maple trees are the preferred host. Continued survey and eradication efforts, including citizen science initiatives, will be needed to prevent this pest from forever changing the landscape of New York’s forests and urban communities.

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