Mission: Forest Pests in NH and ME

Research Question

Where are forest pests already established, where are they not, and is your community at risk?

You're invited

Be a part of the citizen science community and help scientists and managers across Maine and New Hampshire gather useful data on the spread of harmful forest pests. Depending on where you are, your area may already have some of the forest pests listed in this mission. You may have never even heard of them. Whether you are part of a community that is focused on early detection, managing a current infestation, or assessing your risk for a possible future invasion, join the many citizens around you by posting your found and not found data, learning from one another, and sharing what you see in your community.

Mission Steps

1. Take a look and see what trees you have in your area so you know which pest(s) to focus on:

2. Print the Upland Species Survey datasheet. If you have a mix of the trees mentioned above, and plan on looking for multiple pests, you will need to print extra copies of the last page of the datasheet.

3. Print the species ID cards, for the tree(s) and forest pest(s), you’ll need to investigate your local area:

4. Make a prediction. Do you think your community at risk? Explain why or why not in the field notes section of your datasheet (follow the link to the full teacher instructions at the bottom of this page for more detail around this step).

5. Gather your fieldwork equipment and head out into the field!

6. While following the hemlock woolly adelgid sampling method protocol (here), use your tree identification skills (and the species ID cards) to find the host tree that the pest in question likes to hang around. Inspect this tree thoroughly, looking at more than one branch and more than one feature of the tree. Use your forest pest ID car to gather data to support a claim that you found or did not find your target forest pest species.

7. Use your Vital Signs datasheet to collect photo and written evidence to make your claim of found or not found for the forest pest you were looking for.

8. Post your observations...

  • If you are in Maine:
    • Post your found and/or not found observations to the VS database from your “MY Vital Signs” page. Check out these "How-to Guides" if you need help posting data to the site.
  • If you are in New Hampshire:
    • 1st: Post your found and/or not found observations to the VS Project Bank. *Use the "Alternate Data Publishing Format" and "Guide for Posting Data - Mission: Forest Pests in NH" documents found HERE when posting to the project bank. Keep the tab open with you Project Bank post, you will need this link.
    • 2nd: Notify the folks at NHBugs by filling out this Invasive Insect Reporting Form. All you have to do is fill in the contact and location of sighting information fields AND include the link to your Vital Signs Project Bank post in the 'Anything else' field. This will allow for NH scientists, managers, to review your VS project bank post and leave a comment.

9. Celebrate!

Why this mission matters

These forest pests of concern in this mission affect native trees that are integral to our forest ecosystems. These trees provide habitat and food for many native species and we depend on trees for lumber, paper products, and in some cases they are part of the culture and history of New England communities.

Wood borers like the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle develop beneath the bark and wood of their host trees, girdle them, and eventually kill the tree. Piercing-sucking insects like the hemlock woolly adelgid feed on hemlock needles and cause the tree to lose needles, dieback, and eventually die.


If you live in a community where these forest pests have not yet invaded, your help as an early detector can help slow the spread of an invasive so scientists and managers can better deal with these pests:

  • Be an early detector
  • Urge people to not bring in firewood from out of state
  • Continue to check trees in your area to see if they are still pest free
  • Every time you check, you can post to Vital Signs and/or NHBugs

If you live in a community that already has these pests:

  • Include comments in your field notes about how many trees in the area you surveyed are infected
  • Contact your local forester to look into ways you can help in your area

Thank you for taking on the challenge to help keep our forests healthy. Happy observing and thank you for contributing to this important mission.

**See the full teacher instructions HERE**