FARMINGTON — Taking a preventive and educational step, a local couple will share information Tuesday on the potential impact the Asian long-horned beetle could have on Maine’s environment and economy.

The public is invited to the presentation starting at 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce at 407 Wilton Road. Richard and Janet Plouffe as part of the University of Maine Master Gardener program will offer information about the beetles and handouts about positive identification.

The Plouffes, Master Gardener volunteers, recently completed more intense training offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Augusta. The couple, who also own a local landscaping business, are eager to share their knowledge about this destructive insect with the public, said Lauren St. Germain, home horticulture coordinator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Farmington.

Their goal is to take a “preventive mode” toward any possible infestation by educating the public, she said. From this presentation, the public will also be more prepared to obtain specimens for positive identification.

“We don’t want people to panic but to be looking out for it and know when it arrives by being able to identify the beetle,” she said. Although so far none have been identified within Maine, the beetle has been positively identified in Worcester, Mass., she said. Recent media attention on the beetle has prompted people to bring beetles in to the Extension office at 138 Pleasant St. for identification.

The adult male beetle can be ¾ to 1½ long with a shiny black outer shell almost like patent leather, she said. The shell has several white spots and the antenna on the male are longer than the body with white and black sections. The beetles use living hardwood as a nesting site and could potentially impact the local maple syrup and firewood industries.

Part of the preventive effort includes education about not transporting firewood in to the state or moving it further than a 50-mile radius, she said. If someone in southern Maine brought infested firewood to Mt. Blue State Park and didn’t burn it, the potential increases for spreading it around the state, she said.

The Asian long-horned beetle came on boats with imported items from China, Germain said. Another preventive measure includes watching what is imported in to Maine.

“The session is open to everyone and it’s a good way for Maine citizens to help protect the forests of Maine,” she added.

More information and handouts will be shared Tuesday night.

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