Swimming With Invasives!

Think you’re safe in your pools this summer? You better double check! This invasive species has been taking over the mid-Atlantic region of the east coast. Contributor Nick Fordes gives us the scoop.


I am always pleasantly surprised by the creativity of new citizen science projects.  Not only are projects using the power of crowdsourcing in unique ways, but they often integrate parts of our daily lives with opportunities to engage in science.  For example, there are citizen science projects that let you count road kill on your daily commute, take light measurements with your phone in your backyard, or even record videos of you and your dog playing!

A new project even lets you do citizen science while swimming in your pool.  All you have to do is check your pool filters once a week for a particularly interesting creature, the Asian Longhorned BeetleThe Annual Asian Longhorned Beetle Swimming Pool Survey is run by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and needs your help this summer (through August 30, 2013) to identify the beetles that end up in your pool. Why? The Asian Longhorned Beetle is an invasive species and is actually responsible for killing a large amount of trees throughout many Eastern states.

While the Asian Longhorned Beetle is not as much of a widespread threat as its friends the Western Pine Bark Beetle, it is harder for researchers to survey their numbers as the infected trees are not easily identifiable like the brown, leafless victims of the Pine Bark Beetle.  And, unfortunately, one of the most common ways of eradicating the beetle is to kill the infested trees.

Signing up for the project is easy, and once you show interest, you will be sent identification materials and instructions on how to take pictures of your beetles and preserve the specimens for collection.  You don’t even need a pool to participate! The project even has education materials so you can learn more about the Asian Longhorned Beetle.

Citizen science pioneers creative ways in which to use what is available to create engaging projects that are also economical.  In this case–a network of natural, watery bug traps help motivated citizen scientists looking for a way to cool off and contribute to some essential research.

Nick Fordes is a science enthusiast who enjoys doing, teaching, and communicating science.  Nick recently graduated from the University of Idaho with an M.S. in Water Resources.  His research involved creating a web-based participatory GIS application for use in watershed management. He has a true love for technology and appreciation for what the web-based communications can do for promoting science and increasing science literacy.   Nick most recently worked with the Council for Environmental Education, developing K-12 environmental science based curriculum.  In his spare time, Nick enjoys biking the bayous in Houston and fishing as often as he can.  He has been known to use his scientific knowledge to make a pretty mean brisket.

Photo: USFWS

Categories: Animals, Biology, Citizen Science, Insects

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