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Beetle Beat in Boston but Battle Continues

Pest eradication strategies, such as the one taken against the Asian longhorned beetle, includes imposing quarantines, conducting regulatory inspections, surveying host trees by using ground and aerial methods, removing infested and high-risk host trees, and chemically treating host trees.

With eradication efforts against the Asian longhorned beetle ongoing in the states of New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently announced that the destructive pest has been effectively eliminated from an area in Boston.

Osama El-Lissy, APHIS plant protection and quarantine deputy administrator, cautions that, "While the eradication of this infestation is a victory for all of us, we ask that residents of Massachusetts stay vigilant in inspecting their trees regularly for signs of the beetle."

The Asian longhorned beetle was first discovered in the U.S. in 1996 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The USDA speculates that it likely arrived inside wood packing material from Asia. The insect has no known natural predators. It bores through a tree's tissues that carry water and nutrients, which causes the tree to weaken and eventually die. Once a tree is infested, it must be removed. The invasive pest has caused the loss of over 110,000 trees in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Illinois and New Jersey.

The beetle was uncovered in Boston in July 2010. To control the pest, 10-square miles were regulated in Norfolk and Suffolk counties. This past March, final inspection of host trees confirmed the extermination of the beetle from the area. At just under four years, this confirmation marks the shortest eradication timeframe in the history of APHIS' National ALB Eradication program, which the organization claims is a testament to early detection.

APHIS and its partners removed six infested trees from one property and conducted multiple inspection surveys of more than 90,000 host trees. In May 2013, the eradication program completed its third and final cycle of chemical treatment applications on 2,000 host trees.

This success in Boston reduces the regulated areas in Massachusetts from 120 to 110 square miles. A quarantine remains in effect in central Massachusetts, which includes the City of Worcester, the towns of West Boylston, Boylston, Shrewsbury and portions of Holden and Auburn.

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May 26, 2019, 3:14 pm PDT

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