Rhonda Santos (508) 799-8330
Andrea McNally (301) 734-5175
WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2009--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced the discovery of 18 trees infested with Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in West Boylston, Mass. APHIS inspectors surveyed these and other trees in West Boylston in September, 2009, as part of the agency's efforts to control and eradicate an outbreak of ALB in nearby Worcester, Mass.
“All the trees are showing active signs of ALB infestation. Some have the perfectly round, 3/8 inch in diameter exit holes indicating that beetles have emerged this year,” said Christine Markham, APHIS' director of the national ALB program.
Due to this find, APHIS will expand the quarantine area for ALB in Massachusetts by eight square miles. The quarantine entails treatment and inspection activities designed to control the outbreak and prevent the spread of ALB to uninfested areas. The agency regulates the movement from the quarantine zone of firewood, green lumber, nursery stock, tree limbs and other woody materials that are hosts for ALB.
Inspectors working for the ALB eradication program surveyed the area in West Boylston after an alert homeowner reported finding a beetle on their property. The infested trees will be removed as part of the ALB cooperative eradication program.
APHIS will continue to work with the state and municipalities to survey for ALB and expand the quarantine area as necessary to prevent the spread of ALB. The current 74 square mile ALB quarantine zone in Massachusetts includes areas within Worcester County, including the city of Worcester and portions of Boylston, Shrewsbury and Holden. The entire town of West Boylston is also now part of the quarantine area, which borders the towns of Auburn, Grafton, Leicester, Sterling and Milbury.
A mature ALB is about 1 to 1.5 inches long, has a shiny, jet black body with distinctive white spots and long antenna banded in black and white. The adult beetles are most evident between June and October. As developing larvae, ALB tunnel through the heartwood of various tree species during the winter months damaging the pathways that move water and nutrients throughout the tree. This tunneling ultimately kills the tree. The goal of the ALB cooperative eradication program is to eliminate this destructive insect from the United States before it can establish itself elsewhere.
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 beetle infestation.
The Massachusetts ALB cooperative eradication program is comprised of USDA-APHIS, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the City of Worcester, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service and the towns of Holden, Boylston, West Boylston and Shrewsbury.
For answers about the beetle and program activities, please contact the Massachusetts ALB program at 1-866-702-9938 from anywhere in New England. Log on to www.aphis.usda.gov or www.beetlebusters.info or http://massnrc.org/pests/alb for more information about ALB, including pictures and where to report a suspected beetle.
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