Isn’t summer great? We get to slow down a bit — spend more time outdoors, more time with family, more time in the garden…

While you are outside this August, perhaps enjoying the shade of your trees or watering those you planted this spring, the Washington Invasive Species Council encourages you to take the time to make some important observations. During “Tree Check Month,” residents throughout Washington can be the “eyes on the ground” that check trees, watch out for unfamiliar insects, and report about those that could harm trees in our community and native forests.

Invasive pests can easily make their way into our state, as they have before. In 2001, an invasive insect known as the citrus long-horned beetle was discovered in Tukwila, where several beetles had hitched a ride from overseas on some trees shipped from Korea to a local nursery. Luckily, a nursery employee noticed and reported the peculiar-looking bugs to authorities at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, which was able to quickly eradicate the beetles before they could spread to trees in the surrounding area.

These days, arborists are particularly concerned and on the lookout for insects like emerald ash borer (EAB). It is thought that EAB first entered the United States via untreated wood pallets. It has spread quickly, throughout 29 states on the East Coast and in the Midwest, often through the transfer of firewood. EAB has devastated ash trees on a scale equal to or greater than that of Dutch elm disease, a disease spread by an exotic beetle that wiped out the majority of American elm trees in the 1950s. EAB has been spotted as far west as Boulder, Colorado in 2013, and it is probably only a matter of time before it reaches the West Coast.

How can you can help?  If you see a strange green bug in your pool or D-shaped holes and ‘saw dust’ on your tree (symptoms of EAB) or other weird looking bugs, please report them on the Washington Invasive Species Council website. The Council’s website has lots of information about invasive species that are wreaking havoc in our state, both plants and animals. The web site includes photos to help you identify unusual pests.

For more information about EAB, navigate to this site or visit the Washington Invasive Species Education (WISE) website.

Even kids can help! Make “Tree Check Month” a family event. See how kids can help and become “Plant Heroes!”

Thanks for your help!

By Linden J. Lampman, program manager, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program