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Smokejumpers Help Ohio Fight Beetle Fire

Posted by Rhonda Santos, APHIS Public Information Officer in Forestry Animals Plants
Feb 21, 2017
Smokejumpers joining the search for Asian longhorned beetles
Smokejumpers join the search for Asian longhorned beetles.

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.

Forest Service smokejumpers and APHIS tree climbers in Ohio
Forest Service smokejumpers and APHIS tree climbers working together to find ALB in Ohio.

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.

Smokejumper Audrey Banfill
Smokejumper Audrey Banfill looking for ALB in Ohio.
Category/Topic: Forestry Animals Plants

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Comments

Larry
May 05, 2016

Thank you for all that you do.

John DelRosso
May 06, 2016

As is your job wasn't dangerous enough already now your joining the ranks of us who climb trees for a living. Thanks for all your help, and be careful out there!

Troy
May 06, 2016

thanks guys. You guys rock.