- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) - University of Rhode Island entomologists are looking for tree-killing insects they hope they don’t find.

The researchers have set traps at conservation lands throughout western Rhode Island to find the Southern pine beetle. Native to the south, the destructive insect has been found on Long Island and central Connecticut.

It is unclear whether the tiny beetle has arrived in Rhode Island yet, but if not, scientists say it is probably on its way. Finding them early will help the state develop a management plan.

URI entomologist Lisa Tewksbury says the black beetles are 2 to 4 millimeters in size. The larvae eat the tree tissue and spread a fungus, which prevents water uptake in infected trees. Pine beetle infestations can kill a tree in two or three years.

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