Worcester, MA (August 6, 2013) – State and federal officials gathered on the fifth anniversary of the discovery of the Asian longhorned beetle in Worcester, MA to provide encouragement on efforts to contain the beetle, but more remains to be done. They declared August Forest Pest Awareness Month and encouraged residents to check trees in their yards and neighborhoods for signs of the beetle.
While full eradication is about 10 years away, USDA officials are hopeful that the dwindling number of infested trees shows efforts are paying off. In related news, The Nature Conservancy has release a training video for identifying ALB and four other tree pests. Watch the video below:
The beetle, which bores into hardwood trees and eventually kills them by eating out the trees’ structure, was initially found in Worcester’s Burncoat neighborhood and spread to neighboring Shrewsbury, Holden, West Boylston and Boylston.
Citizens are critical to watching for and identifying signs of the beetle on trees in their yards and neighborhoods. Clint McFarland, of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program, said residents can spot signs of the beetle in hardwood trees, such as maple, elm and ash trees, by checking the trees for exit holes and an orange discoloration on the bark.
McFarland estimated full eradication of the pest is still about 10 years away, but said the dwindling numbers of infested trees federal officials are finding is encouraging. About $113 million has been spent on the effort over the years.
Since the beetle, which is shiny black with white markings on its body, was found in Worcester, federal officials have surveyed over 3.5 million trees and cut down, chipped up and incinerated over 30,000 infested or host trees to control the spread of the beetle.
State and federal officials have partnered to replant more than 25,000 trees with 2,000 more to be planted later in 2013. Most of the trees replanted were the result of Worcester Tree Initiative.
The eradication effort in Worcester County is also benefitting from various research projects such as the black and white beetle detection traps that state Department of Conservation and Recreation, the U.S. Forest Service and researchers at Pennsylvania State University have placed in the regulated area, as well as in other neighborhoods.