Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Scientific American Fronteirs
TV Schedule
Alan Alda
For Educators
Previous Shows
Future Shows
Special Features

Alien Invasion
 
Science Hotline
Photo of Mastro Victor Mastro
Please e-mail questions

Victor Mastro is Center Director of the Otis Plant Protections Center on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Mastro holds an Associate's degree and a Bachelor of Science in Forestry, In 1973, he received his Master's in Entomology from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

Mastro has long been involved in the century-long endeavor to stave off gypsy moth damage in the United States. He also researches survey and control of the Asian gypsy moth, the Asian longhorned beetle, the Japanese beetle and more than twenty other exotic insect species that threaten native plants and trees. Mastro's responsibilities include pest exclusion technology, pest survey and monitoring and risk mitigation.

A member of the Entomological Society of America since 1972, Mastro belongs to an array of professional societies and is also the recipient of numerous honors and awards in his field. In 1998, he and his colleagues were awarded the USDA Group Award for Excellence for their work with the Asian longhorned beetle.

     

For links to this scientist's home page and other related infomation please see our resources page

Mastro responds :

11/13/01 Casey asks:
Are alien species posing a threat to many native species around the world(in general)? Also, what is the most common method of controlling the balance between alien species and native species, are there any side effects? Thank you very much-Casey

Mastro's response:
Yes, species are being transported all over the world and they threaten natural ecosystems and mans' activities. The first method used to try to mitigate the impacts of exotic species is to exclude them through quarantine regulations and procedures. Although these efforts do have a positive impact, they are not entirely successful. When an exotic does slip through, early detection of it, before the population becomes large and spreads, sometimes allows elimination or eradication efforts to succeed. Once an alien becomes established and it has ecological and economic impacts, a management program is initiated and a wide variety of tools are employed to minimize its impacts. These include classical biological control, manipulation of the habitat, the use of pesticides, and other tactics. When combined to form a comprehensive program, this is usually called Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

As mentioned on the show, yes there can be side effects of any of the strategies involved. In formulation of an IPM program, these potential side effects are considered and you attempt to minimize them.

11/06/01 Brendan asks:
I live in Townsend, Massachusetts, and this beetle, the longhorned beetle, is here. I have seen it the past few summers, but didn't know it was bad until the show about alien invaders. The program said that it was confined to Chicago and New York, but as this is not the case, I felt obligated to tell someone, so that this can be addressed. Who should I alert?

Mastro's response:
Thank you Brendan for your observation. I will pass your information on to state and federal officials who will follow up on any reports of ALB. Please contact Charlie Burnham at 508-792-7716 x132.

11/06/01 Elinor K. asks:
Have any effective natural or chemical advances been made in fighting the Asian long horn beetle? We believe that our hemlocks have been infected with them.

Mastro's response:
The recent advance in the work described on the T.V. show that injects a systematic insecticide directly into a tree's vascular system is effective. As the beetle attempts to feed on the bark of small twigs or the leaves, they are killed preventing them from infecting new trees.

Hemlocks are not host of the ALB, but may have other exotic or native pests on them. Contact your county agent or state extension service for a positive identification.

11/06/01:
We live in San Antonio Texas zip 78228. I stepped on one of these beetles that was at the base of my dying 12- Year-old maple tree. The tree continued to die as the year went by. One windy night, the tree fell and hit an aluminum fence and it chattered into several pieces. The following day we cut up the tree and found hundreds of holes all over it. After several days we decided to dig out the stump. We found 2 larva with black horns. We decided to burn the stump. After it burned for a few hours, we continued to dig out the stump. We found 2 more larva moving about. We cut the larva with a shovel and burned the stump again. Should someone from the USDA contact us? Should we do anything else?

Mastro's response:
Thank you for reporting what you found on your tree. Tips like yours help to find new introductions of exotics before they can reach damaging levels and before their population becomes too large to control. Please contact your county agent, state extension office, or local USDA office at 512-916-5241.

11/06/01 Michael K. asks:
Dr. Mastro.
I have been splitting wood for sale in southern Oklahoma. I swear I have found the larvae of the Asian beetle. It really stood out when I split these dead Oak and Hickory trees. I am a horticulturist by profession with a Landscape Architecture degree with a turf management option. I did not know if it mattered but the program said it was only in one or two states. I just wanted to respond because of the ever encroaching killer bees and fire ant problems. The area is in Kingston Ok. on Lake Texoma. I can be reached either by email or phone. I am quite positive that the larvae was the critter.
Thanks,
concerned citizen Michael K.

Mastro's response:
Thank you for your sharp observation. The USDA and the State's Department of Agriculture are critically interested in finding any other infestation of Asian longhorned beetle. Help like your observation will enable us to find populations when they can be controlled. Please contact your local county agent or USDA at 405-427-9438.

11/06/01 Steven J. asks:
A tree across the street from me died and was cut down. We took the wood and split it for firewood. It had large holes inside and under the bark which could not be detected from the outside. There were worms inside that looked identical to the what you identified as larvae of the Asian longhorned beetle. We should not have it killing trees here in Collierville, TN, just outside of Memphis, but it appears we do. Perhaps I have misidentified this insect, but both my wife and I are relatively certain that the insect you showed on PBS is the same as the ones we found inside the firewood from the killed tree here in Tennessee. Should we contact someone? We still have the infested wood in our woodpile.

Mastro's response:
Thank you for your interest and keen observation. You should contact your local county agent or USDA office at 615-781-5477.

11/06/01 From Tony Pederson:
This past summer I was in western Oregon, and took a picture of what looks like an Asian Longhorn Beetle. I understand that, if that is what it is, it should not be there. Does that area, Crater Lake National Park (specifically), have an insect that looks similar to the ALB? I can email a jpeg if you'd like to take a look. ~Tony P.

Mastro's response:
Please retain your photo and contact your local county extension office or USDA State Plant Health Director of Oregon at 503-326-2814.

11/07/01 Derek asks:
Hello, I was fascinated with the segment about your research on the gypsy moth. I have kind of a strange moth question for you. Darn if I haven't been able to locate the dissection manual that I read this in. I was going to send you the article. I will see how much I can recall from memory.

This article stated that you could grow giant grasshoppers. Now, I am not sure if they were being liberal with the term gaint. The article said to take about 20 to 30 dead bodies of male moths. (unspecified type) Grind then up in a mortar and pestle with sand. Put this into solution. (Can't remember if it was either H2o or ctoh.) Coarsely filter the solution and then centrifuge. Draw off the clear part of the solution and allow to evaporate. The remaining material was said to be amber colored and honey-like. This was said to be the moth's hormone. It said to then paint this "hormone" onto the side of the abdomen of a baby grasshopper. This really intrigued me at age 12. However, I did not have access to the equipment, and did not have much experience with the scientific method. I am now 38. Now and then I still wonder about that article. You seem to be one of the very few people who could tell me if this seems plausible in any way. Derek

Mastro's response:
Sorry Derek, I have never heard of this specific use for dead moths. Insects do contain hormones that regulate growth, but I don't believe that the technique your described would allow you to transfer them from moths to grasshoppers.


Return to Show Page

 

 


Teaching guide Science hotline watch online Weblinks & more
The Silence of the Birds Green Invader The Silken Tree Eaters Dust Busting Teaching guide Science hotline video trailer Resources Contact Search Homepage