Beetle Busters

Overview

The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) has made news across the United States. These beetles came to America from China, living in wood turned into shipping material. At first the beetles invaded urban areas, where hardwood trees were in limited supply—Chicago was able to declare itself ALB-free in 2006. But right now there is bad news in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Toronto—infestations have erupted in the area’s hardwood forests, and these beetles, while bad at flying, ...

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Overview

The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) has made news across the United States. These beetles came to America from China, living in wood turned into shipping material. At first the beetles invaded urban areas, where hardwood trees were in limited supply—Chicago was able to declare itself ALB-free in 2006. But right now there is bad news in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Toronto—infestations have erupted in the area’s hardwood forests, and these beetles, while bad at flying, are very good at killing trees.

Clint McFarland’s job? Stop the ALB at any cost. How do you balance the needs of residents, the impact to the environment, and an invasive species primed to wipe out entire forests? It takes the help of everyday people, such as children playing baseball at a playground, teams of beetle-sniffing dogs, and science-minded people (bug scientists and tree doctors) to eradicate this invasive pest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/06/2014
With ostentatious striped antennae and an iridescent blue sheen, the Asian longhorned beetle is “a stunner,” as Burns puts it. But looks can kill: the insect, introduced to the U.S. in recent decades, is massively destructive, chewing up many of America’s hardwood forests. Photographs of the species, trees pockmarked by the beetle’s “exit holes,” maps, and details about scientists’ efforts to remove infested trees create a narrative that unfolds like a detective story. In her third contribution to the Scientists in the Field series, Burns delivers a fascinating look at the origins of an invasive species and efforts to combat the damage it causes. Ages 10–14. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
* "A splendid example of science controversy in everyday life."
Kirkus, starred review

"Burns delivers a fascinating look at the origins of an invasive species and efforts to combat the damage it causes."
—Publishers Weekly

• "This fascinating, timely book might just change the way readers look at insects and trees for good."
Booklist, starred review

"The subject and the youth of many of the participants give this title an immediacy unusual even in this excellent series, bridging the gap between scientist and reader in a way that invites kids into the process."
—Bulletin

"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."
—Horn Book Magazine

• "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...A timely, well-told story and a call to action."
School Library Journal, starred review

From the Publisher
* "A splendid example of science controversy in everyday life."
Kirkus, starred review

"Burns delivers a dascinating look at the origins of an invasive species and efforts to combat the damage it causes."
Publishers Weekly

• "This fascinating, timely book might just change the way readers look at insects and trees for good."
Booklist, starred review

 
 

School Library Journal
★ 01/01/2015
Gr 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
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-09-14
Will chopping down 33,000 trees in Worcester, Massachusetts, save other forests from the destructive Asian longhorned beetle? Scientists are trying to answer that question as they battle an invasion that probably began 20 years ago in this central Massachusetts city that sits near the wild, natural forests that stretch north to Maine and beyond. Burns, who began her investigations as a resident of the affected area concerned about losing the trees around her, provides a clear, evenhanded description of this difficult issue. For now, chopping down trees and chipping their wood is the only known way to eradicate the pest. But it takes 30 years for new trees to mature. Is it worth it? The author provides solid background for her readers to ponder this question. Chapter by chapter she introduces the arresting-looking beetle, the trees that host it (more than a dozen species are vulnerable), the team of scientists and foresters working in Worcester, and research efforts in a nearby small forest. She presents data available so far and looks ahead to the likelihood of success in the larger battle across the country. Her narrative is framed by the experience of a teen who saw his favorite forest area cut and has watched it regrow. It's enhanced by Harasimowicz's clear photographs. A splendid example of science controversy in everyday life. (author's note, resources, glossary, bibliography and acknowledgements, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547792675
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/7/2014
  • Series: Scientists in the Field Series
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 354,554
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Lexile: NC1100L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Loree Griffin Burns, Ph.D., did her doctoral at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Ms. Burns lives in Massachusetts with her husband and children. She is the author of Beetle Busters, Tracking Trash, and The Hive Detectives.


Ellen Harasimowicz is a freelance photojournalist new to nature photography. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and Scientific American. Ellen lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Paul; her work can be seen at www.ellenharasimowicz.com.

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