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Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Infestation Kill Hardwoods - No Chem or Bio Control Available

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United States Senator Charles E. Schumer announced he is calling on the United States Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies to provide $50 million in federal funding to combat the growing infestation of Asian longhorned beetles on Staten Island and across the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in February that 13 maple trees on Staten Island had been infested by the Asian longhorned beetle, which expanded a tree quarantine area that was first established in 2007 from 7.8 square miles to 10 square miles and now includes a residential area. The infested trees were removed and burned, which is the only known was to kill the beetle. An additional 25 trees in nearby areas were also removed while 8,200 trees in a half-mile radius have been chemically treated to prevent the infestation from spreading any further. On Staten Island, there are currently 7,395 trees at high risk for ALB infestation.

 

"Across Staten Island, we have already seen the devastating damage these ravenous beetles can have on our city’s trees and parks,” Schumer said. “With too many trees on Staten Island already dead or at risk, it is safe to say that if we do not secure additional money to eradicate the Asian longhorned beetle immediately, we could potentially lose thousands of trees on Staten Island that clean our air, cool our climate, attract thousands of tourists, and improve the overall quality of life. We must take action right away to ensure that these beetles do not cause any more harm to our precious environment.”

 

On December 31, 2008, The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service surveyed a piece of land in Mariners Harbor and found the insect in 12 trees and 1 additional tree nearby. On Staten Island, it has been estimated that the December infestation lasted for about four years because of the discovery of perfectly round exit holes and sites indicating that the beetles have laid eggs in the trees. The 13 infested trees have been removed, chopped, and burned along with 25 nearby trees, while 8,200 trees in a half mile radius have been chemically treated with an insecticide. The quarantined area on Staten Island will continue to be under close surveillance. Areas of Long Island, Manhattan’s Central Park, Queens and Brooklyn are also being monitored because of past infestations.

 

ALB was first discovered on Staten Island in the spring of 2007 on Prall’s Island when 41 infested trees were found and three more trees were found on the former GATX industrial site in Bloomfield. After the 2007 infestation, 7,900 trees were chopped down while another 6,400 were chemically treated on the West Shore and a quarantine area was created. A 7.8 square mile area on the North and West shores was formed and was recently expanded to 10 square miles because of the recent discovery, bringing the total quarantine area in New York State to a total of 142 square miles.

 

First discovered in New York City in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 1996, the beetle is characterized by its nearly endless appetite for hardwood, already destroying over 8,400 trees. The ALB, subsequently found in Illinois and New Jersey, is a local, regional, and national environmental threat. The ALB is active in nine counties in New York and New Jersey. In the United States, 35% of all urban trees are at risk, at a combined replacement value of $669 billion. The threat is even greater in New York City, with 47% of its 5.2 million trees susceptible to ALB infestation. Although relatively easy to stop and eliminate once found, identification of infestations remains difficult with a limited number of inspectors available. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has been conducting programs to eradicate the ALB.

 

The beetles are believed to have come from wooden pallets and other wood packing material that came in cargo shipments from Asia. Adult Asian longhorned beetles are .75 to 1.5 inches long with long black and white striped antennae. Their bodies are shiny black and have small white spots on their wings. Depending on the climate, they can be found from late spring to fall. The Asian Longhorned Beetles attack many different types of hardwood trees including maple, elm, willow, poplar, and birch. ALB larvae tunnel deep into the trunk and branches of trees and feed on the tree's nutrients. The tunneling weakens and eventually kills the tree. No chemical or biological control methods are currently known to eradicate the beetle. All known infested trees are chipped and then the chips are burned, the only known way to kill the beetles, to prevent further infestation. Because ALB targets so many different types of trees, the infestation could seriously debilitate the forest ecosystem. The trees that ALB target are also important for lumber, maple syrup, wood products, and promoting tourism.

 

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Edited by Luke_Wilbur

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Genetically engineer the females' (easier said than done) to be infertile as the U.S. has done with other species of "bugs" in the last 10 years would be my recommendation as opposed to chemicals but this sounds like a very real (if not very near) ecosystem-killer so whatever is quickest at the moment.

 

669 billion dollars is a very ugly number ...

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Guest Cornell University

A successful artificial diet and rearing protocol are urgently needed, because research with this wood-boring beetle can only be conducted in the confined areas of quarantines.

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