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USDA Announces Asian Longhorned Beetle Survey Efforts in Boston and Brookline_ Mass_

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

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2010 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced that surveys are under way in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston and portions of the town of Brookline, Mass., to determine the scope of an Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infestation in the area.

APHIS confirmed the presence of ALB in six trees on the grounds of Boston's Faulkner Hospital earlier this month after an employee of the hospital reported finding unusual damage in a maple tree on the property. This is the first detection of the invasive pest outside of the Worcester county regulated area.

“These surveys will help us determine the extent of the ALB infestation in Boston and will aid us in moving forward with a targeted eradication program,” said Christine Markham, national program director of APHIS' Asian longhorned beetle eradication program. “We continue to work closely with our state and local counterparts to minimize the effects and spread of thisdestructive pest.”

Inspection crews have already surveyed over 6,500 trees in the area, and will continue to survey areas surrounding Faulkner Hospital and portions of the neighboring town of Brookline. Crews inspect ALB host tree species for signs of the beetle using a combination of ground survey inspection staff and trained tree climbers.

APHIS and state officials immediately quarantined the infested area to stop the spread of the beetle. Currently, the regulated area is 10-square miles, and the interstate and intrastate movement of ALB-host material is restricted. As the survey continues, APHIS and the state will adjust the quarantine if needed. Officials are hosting training sessions and workshops to assist businesses and individuals in complying with the quarantine regulations.

Wood from the 12 ALB host tree species cannot be removed from the regulated area unless it has been chipped to less than one inch in two dimensions. All companies working on host trees within the regulated area must have a valid compliance agreement with the Massachusetts ALB cooperative eradication program. Establishing a location for the regulated wood processing site for companies and contractors to dispose of wood and stumps too large to be chipped in site is still in process.

Citizens can help by reporting sightings of the beetle and any signs of infestation. The Asian longhorned beetle is a large beetle, with its body measuring approximately 1- to 1-1/2 inches long. It is a shiny black beetle appearing with random white spots. Its antennae, which are

longer than the insect's body, are banded black and white, and it has six legs. Its feet are black and sometimes appear with a bluish tint. Adult beetles typically first appear during the month of
July and will continue to be present throughout the summer and into the early fall months. ALB can be found anywhere, including on trees, benches, cars, patios and outdoor furniture, sides of houses and sidewalks, etc. If you find an ALB, place the insect in a jar and freeze it — this will preserve the insect for identification. Early detection of ALB infestations is important because it can limit an infested area and the number of trees destroyed.

To report signs or symptoms of ALB, or for answers about program activities, please call the Massachusetts ALB cooperative eradication program at (508) 799-8330 or toll-free at (866) 702-9938. Reports in Massachusetts can be made via the Internet at www.BeetleBusters.info or http://massnrc.org/pests/alb.

APHIS is working cooperatively with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the City of Boston, the town of Brookline, and the U.S. Forest Service for the Boston ALB eradication efforts.

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 www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom and click on the RSS feed link. To sign up to receive APHIS releases automatically, send an e-mail message to lyris@mdrdlyriss10.aphis.usda.gov and leave the subject blank. In the message, type subscribe press_releases.

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