Beetle Busters: A Rogue Insect and the People Who Track It

photos by Ellen Harasimowicz. 64p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780547792675.
RedReviewStarGr 5–9—They arrived unseen, burrowed in wooden pallets, spools, and crates, aboard ships from China. The first group spotted in the United States, in Brooklyn, NY, was contained, and quickly taken care of, but since then infestations have been discovered from Massachusetts to Illinois, and as far north as Canada. They're Asian longhorned beetles, pests with "powerful jaws and a taste for wood" and the frightening potential to eat their way through North American forests. Griffin takes readers alongside a team of dedicated scientists and citizen volunteers working to eradicate this invasive species in a quarantined area in Worchester County, MA. Along the way, she explains how the creatures can go undetected for years (their life cycle begins inside trees, which keeps them heavily camouflaged) and offers information that early studies on the creature have yielded—not all of it hopeful. Abundant, close-up, color photos of the insect (from egg to pupa to mature adult), damaged trees, onsite workers, and informative labeled diagrams and maps help tell this disquieting story. Burns questions the approach of the scientists she followed and both admires and "trusts." But for her, the story is also personal. The author lives within the quarantined area in Massachusetts and has seen firsthand areas where swatches of infested (and other) trees have been cut down. Her questions about the method employed will leave readers asking some of their own—as they should. A timely, well-told story and a call to action.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal
The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), an invasive species, threatens "the entire northeastern hardwood forest." In Worcester, Massachusetts, scientists and residents hypothesize that destroying all of Worcester's infected trees--i.e., the ALB habitat--will eradicate the beetle. Clear photographs, charts, diagrams, and a straightforward text outline the problem, from the beetle's invasion to the trees' destruction and replanting. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
From Asian carp to zebra mussels, invasive species can adversely affect our ecosystems and economy. Such is the case with the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) that threatens no less an ecosystem than "the entire northeastern hardwood forest." The destruction begins when the female ALB lays up to twenty-five eggs in individual pits she carves into a tree. Once hatched, each larva bores its way deeper into the tree and remains there, growing steadily for up to two years; eventually the adult beetle chews its way out of the now-damaged tree. The cycle repeats and repeats and repeats, with ALB spreading like, er, kudzu. In Worcester, Massachusetts, Burns follows scientists and city residents who are looking for a way to eradicate this pest by employing the scientific method. They've hypothesized that taking the drastic step of destroying all of Worcester's infected trees -- i.e., the ALB habitat -- will eradicate the beetle. But they're not sure -- a strong reminder to readers that a hypothesis is not a solution but part of a reasoned trial. Clear photographs, charts, diagrams, and a straightforward text with appropriate scientific vocabulary outline the problem, from the beetle's invasion and difficult discovery to the trees' destruction and replanting. Burns stresses that the success or failure of this project will take years to determine, showing that science is often less eureka-moment outcome and more slow process. Appended with a glossary, a bibliography, an author's note, recommended further research, and an index. betty carter

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