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The best protection for trees? You

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Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Sat Jul 12, 2014.

(BPT) - Whether it’s a game of hide and seek in the woods, a walk in the park on a sunny day, or a moonlit night around a campfire – the memories of summer  stay with us forever. Too often we can take for granted the beauty of our surroundings while enjoying the great outdoors, but everyone can play a part in protecting our natural resources.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated August as Tree Check Month to keep our trees strong and healthy now and for future generations to enjoy. Even more, it can be a family affair. It’s a chance to teach kids about the impact they can have in saving our nation’s trees from a devastating pest, the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).

The beetle has led to the loss of more than 110,000 trees in the U.S. and more than 70 percent of your community’s tree canopy could be lost too. The good news is that anyone – especially kids – can help in the effort to stop this beetle.

Teach your kids these simple steps about how to check your trees:

1. Look up

Stand back and look at the top of the tree. Do you see any dead or dying branches?

2. Look it over

Now get in close and focus on the tree trunk and branches. See the beetle? See any dime-sized exit holes or shallow scars in the bark?

3. Look down

Do you see any sawdust-like shavings at the tree’s base or on the branches? That’s a sign the ALB has been busy eating.

Early detection is critical. It may mean more trees are saved. If you think you’ve found an Asian longhorned beetle or signs of infestation, always record the area where the beetle or damage was found. If possible, capture the insect you think is the beetle, place it in a jar and freeze it – this will preserve the insect for easy identification.

Celebrate Tree Check Month with a few activities and crafts that take your kids out of the house and turn them into tree heroes:

1. Before searching for the beetle, why not dress up as one? Use this step-by-step guide on how to build an ALB costume to crawl on over to your nearest hardwoods and search for the ALB.

2. Turn an average game of hide-and-seek into a tree-saving mission. With simple household items, make an ALB, hide it in your trees and encourage kids to spot the beetle while checking the trees for any signs of trouble.

3. Take an afternoon to collect leaves from your backyard and favorite park, make a Tree Saving Book, and teach your kids about the trees that are at risk from the ALB.

4. Spend some time reading The Spotted Bug storybook about a boy who sets out to save trees.

Spend August giving back to the trees that play such an important part in our lives. It’s a great excuse to get outside and teach your children how they can help save something that is at the heart of the outdoors.

For more activities, or to report any signs or sightings of the ALB, visit www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com or call the toll free hotline at 866-702-9938.

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