This summer, individuals from UMass, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Nature Conservancy are collaborating on the Outsmart Invasive Species Project in an effort to stop the spread of non-native plants and insects that jeopardize the health of our environment. The Outsmart team, partnering with the Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood program, will be visiting a number of music festivals, farmers’ markets, and other events throughout the summer to conduct in-person training in invasive species identification. The Outsmart Invasive Species smartphone application helps users report invasive plant and insect species quickly and easily.
Invasive species pose serious environmental and economic threats to communities throughout Massachusetts. In Worcester in 2008, an outbreak of Asian longhorned beetle resulted in the destruction of nearly 30,000 trees, a loss that will take decades for the community to recoup. Last summer, the first adult emerald ash borer was found in Dalton, Massachusetts, and Berkshire County is currently defined as a quarantine area. Early detection and continual monitoring are key to stopping new invasive insect threats like the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer, whether in a forest or an urban neighborhood, and the same is true for invasive plant species. This summer, the Outsmart Project is focusing on five such plants: glossy buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, autumn olive, and invasive honeysuckles.
The good news is that anyone with a smartphone is ready to help. Join the Outsmart Invasive Species Project and help scientists cover more ground by looking for invasive species anytime – while walking the dog, hiking, fishing, gardening, or working outdoors.
If you have an iPhone or Android: Download the FREE Outsmart Invasive Species application through iTunes or Google Play, and you’ll be prepared to identify and report invasive species anytime. If you have already downloaded the application last year, we encourage you to update the application to take advantage of new functionality and identification training videos.
Stay up to date: Visit the Facebook page, follow Outsmart on Twitter @outsmartapp, and for regular updates, sign up for the Outsmart e-mail listserv. For more information, go to www.masswoods.net/outsmart.