State creates app in fight against foreign beetle

Published On: Mar 03 2014 07:43:00 PM HST

Hawaii wants residents to become the next beetle busters.

Click here to watch Ashley Moser's report.

Experts say the best defense against the Coconut Rhino Beetle is a good offense.

"We know that invasive species threatens our security, our food supply, threatens our environment, threatens our ability to adapt to climate change," said Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

There's reason for concern. Specialists found 150 adult beetles and some larvae centralized around Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam.

The key is keeping them from spreading.

"We're a little worried because that's also by Honolulu Harbor. It's by the airport. People drive in and out of there and they certainly carry beetles," said Christy Martin, of the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species.

Traps are in place hanging from trees with a little strip of pheromone-soaked bait that draws the beetles in.

The state has created a smartphone app to turn residents into beetle hunters.

"It's to help us identify around the whole state where these beetles have potentially spread," said beetle beetle Eryn Opie.

The team said the process is easy as long as so-called beetle busters have a smart phone or computer. They just take a picture of a tree that might have been affected. The photo serves as a locator for beetle hunters.

"And then you'll get an email back once the team looks at it and reviews it and they'll comment on it, saying, 'This tree looks clean' or 'This tree appears to look damaged,'" said Martin.

Officials said once they get a hit on a potentially affected tree, they send the incident command response team to trap the beetles around the infestation site.

"But that's very limited so if they have public help, then we can (better) target the response," Martin said.

Those interested in becoming beetle busters can search for the Project Noah app on Apple or Android phones or visit the Project Noah website.


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