State forestry officials want them — specifically any that resemble the dreaded Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive species that can cut a destructive path through maples, elms, willows and other hardwoods.
Turns out the black-and-white tree feasters are drawn to swimming pools. But they’re lousy swimmers. Entomologists discovered pool filters and baskets are a treasure trove for insects of all kinds. In a preemptive strike to keep the Asian longhorned beetle from getting a foothold in the Granite State, state officials are enlisting the help of pool owners across the state.
“What we’re asking people is to just look in their pool filters and look for these huge, glossy black-and-white longhorned beetles,” said Kyle Lombard, forest entomologist with the state Division of Forest and Lands.
If anything resembling the longhorned beetle shows up, state officials ask pool owners to take a picture of it and upload the photo at nhbugs.org/asian-longhorned-beetle. To date, the Asian longhorned beetle has not been found in New Hampshire.
“We’ve learned pool filters are probably the best insect collector in the country,” Lombard said Thursday.
State forestry officials got the pool survey idea from Worcester, Mass., where the Asian longhorned beetle caused major damage after first being detected there in 2008, Lombard said.
“This thing is a lazy flier and tended to show up in swimming pools in Worcester,” Lombard said.
Noel Negroni knows all about bugs in pools. The Manchester resident said he has never seen so many in the 14 years he’s had an inground pool at his 204 Prospect St.
“It’s an infestation,” Negroni said. “It’s like hundreds of them in the pool when I get up every morning.”
Negroni said he willing to photograph anything that resembles the longhorned beetle and upload it on the website. But first he needs to know what it looks like.
Teaching people what the longhorned beetle looks like is a priority for the state, Lombard said. That’s because early detection is the best way to combat it.
This is the second summer the state Division of Forest and Lands appealed to pool owners to look for the insects.
The agency used a $100,000 federal grant in 2012 to collect them from 30 public pools across the state.
Officials found no longhorned beetles, but discovered two other invasive species they hadn’t realized were in the state: the brown marmorated stink bug and European fire ant, Lombard said.
Non-native insect species pose a serious threat to North America and stem from rapid global shipping, Lombard said.
“We can move products ... so fast around this world that insects get caught in that packaging or in wood products or in landscape materials and don’t have time to die in transport like thy did years ago,” Lombard said.