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USDA Treats Worcester County, Mass, Trees Against Asian Longhorned Beetle

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Rhonda Santos (508) 852-8044
Suzanne Bond (301) 734-5175

Asian Longhorned BeetleWASHINGTON, March 9, 2011 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will treat 96,000 trees susceptible to the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) this spring with the insecticide imidacloprid in Worcester County, Mass. ALB treatments will start the week of April 25, weather permitting, within portions of the city of Worcester, as well as portions of the towns of Holden, West Boylston, Boylston and Shrewsbury.

The public can assist the eradication effort by allowing program officials access to their property to evaluate susceptible trees for any signs of ALB infestation and/or to treat trees that are susceptible to ALB infestation. Chemical treatments will only be applied to noninfested ALB host trees. All ALB infested trees or trees showing signs of infestation must be removed and destroyed in order to eliminate the ALB infestation. This action applies to treated trees as well.

Prior to the start of control treatments, state and federal experts from the Massachusetts ALB Cooperative Eradication Program will host four public meetings to present current plans for implementing control treatments and answer questions. Each meeting is being held from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Monday, March 14, Worcester Technical High School, 1 Skyline Drive, Worcester;
  • Tuesday, March 15, Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, 11 French Drive, Boylston;
  • Wednesday, March 16, Beaman Memorial Library, 8 Newton Street, West Boylston;
  • Thursday, March 17, Holden Senior Center, Holden.

Program officials will contact property owners within the designated treatment areas to obtain a signed treatment release prior to the use of control treatments. Control treatments are a vital component of the area-wide eradication strategy. APHIS encourages all property owners within the treatment areas to support the treatment of host trees.

Control treatment applications are conducted by contracted Massachusetts licensed pesticide applicators. The licensed applicators will treat the ALB host trees using hand-held application devices, where the pesticide is injected directly into the trunk of the tree, allowing the imidacloprid to be dispersed through the tree's vascular system. The insecticide reaches adult ALB feeding on small twigs and leaves, and larvae feeding just beneath the bark of treated host trees.

Imidacloprid is a registered pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. It is used in agriculture, the lawn care industry to kill lawn grubs, and in some pet treatments to kill fleas. Approved for ALB program use, the insecticide has proven to reduce beetle populations in research completed in the United States and China. It is currently used in the New York eradication program and has been used as part of ALB eradication activities in New Jersey and Illinois. APHIS oversees treatment applications and conducts environmental monitoring as part of the ALB eradication program.

ALB threatens urban and suburban trees, as well as valued forest resources, and threatens such industries as maple syrup production, hardwood lumber processing, nurseries and tourism. Control treatments are part of the ALB cooperative eradication program's effort to prevent further infestation of this invasive insect and reduce populations.

APHIS and its cooperators undertake eradication by imposing quarantines, conducting visual inspections, removing infested trees and chemically treating noninfested host trees as part of an integrated eradication strategy. The goal is to eliminate ALB before it can establish itself elsewhere.

For treatment maps, review the ALB website at www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/asian_lhb/ and select “ ALB Program Maps.”

For more information about program activities in Massachusetts, please call 1-866-702-9938. Log on to www.aphis.usda.gov or massnrc.org/pests/alb, or visit www.BeetleBusters.info for more information about ALB, including pictures and where to report a suspected beetle.

Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet and through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Go to the APHIS news release page at www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom and click on the RSS feed link.

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