ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner wants New Yorkers with swimming pools to take part in the annual Asian Longhorned Beetle Swimming Pool Survey. The goal of the survey is to find infestations of invasive pests before they seriously damage trees and forests statewide.

During late summer, adult ALBs emerge from their host trees and are very active. The wood-boring beetles were accidentally introduced to the U.S. through wood packing materials. They feed on hardwood trees like maple, birch, elm, willow, ash, and poplar. They’ve killed hundreds of thousands of trees, and active infestations are currently fought in Ohio, South Carolina, Long Island, and Worcester County, Massachusetts. They’ve allegedly been eradicated throughout much of New York City after threatening Central Park years ago.

It’s the best time of year to spot the beetles:

  • 1.5 inches long
  • Black with white spots
  • Back and white antennae
  • Leave perfectly round, dime-sized holes in branches and trunks
  • Excrete sawdusty “frass” that collects on branches and at the base of trees

“Most invasive forest pest infestations have been discovered and reported by members of the public, making citizen science a vital tool for protecting our urban and rural forests,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Swimming pool monitoring is a simple, economical approach to surveying for Asian longhorned beetles.”

DEC is asking pool owners to check filters for insects that look like ALBs and report suspects. You can email an image or mail a specimen to the DEC’s Forest Health Diagnostics Lab at 108 Game Farm Road, Delmar, NY 12054, Attn: Jessica Cancelliere.

The DEC says to examine pools, while the USDA has declared August as “Tree Check Month.” Discovering an infestation early will save money and trees. “It’s important to look for signs of the beetle now because it’s slow to spread during the early stages of an infestation,” said Josie Ryan, National Operations Manager for the ALB Eradication Program. “With the public’s help, we can target new areas where it has spread and provide a better chance of quickly containing it.”