Smokejumpers are a unique breed. They are people who are willing to jump, really parachute, out of an aircraft to provide a quick attack on forest fires. While smokejumpers are highly trained, experienced firefighters, they are also expert tree climbers. These firefighters usually work in rugged terrain, but travel all over the country to fight fires. Recently they traveled to Tate Township, Ohio to fight a fire of a different kind.
In April, the U.S. Forest Service sent smokejumpers to help the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) combat the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) by climbing trees in Tate Township, Ohio, about 40 minutes outside of Cincinnati. The beetle is destroying trees in this area and the goal is to find infested tree quickly before the insect starts to emerge in May as adult beetles from the inside infested trees.
This isn’t the first time APHIS asked for smokejumpers to help find beetles. In early 2011, the smokejumpers came to Worcester, Massachusetts to help find the beetle there.
In Ohio, smokejumpers climbed and inspected trees located in a variety of areas, such as along streets, in backyards and parklands, along railroads, industrial parks, cemeteries, schools, wooded and forested areas, etc. Wherever they could get to while they were there. They looked for ALB damage and signs of infestation.
You can be on the lookout for the Asian longhorned beetle, too. Signs of infestation include round exit holes, big enough that you can fit a pencil in, egg sites that look like wounds on the tree and may weep sap, as well as frass or sawdust-like material at the base of the tree and of course any branches dropping unexplainably. Adult beetles are active during the summer and fall, so please check your trees and report any sightings by calling 1-866-702-9938 or report online.