USDA Announces Advancements in Massachusetts Eradication Efforts Against Asian Longhorned Beetle Infestation

a8480ad0277afcabfe68a99800a7b3d3WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2011–The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s  (USDA’s) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced today  progress in the fight to eradicate the Asian  longhorned beetle (ALB) from Massachusetts.

Since  Aug. 5, 2008, when the invasive beetle was first detected in the state, the ALB  eradication program has surveyed over 1.5 million trees in Worcester County,  and over 56,000 trees in Suffolk/Norfolk counties.  Inspection surveys continue to be conducted  within the established regulated areas by looking at ALB host trees for signs  of the beetle.

“We’re  seeing a 90 percent reduction in the number of infested trees found in  Worcester County from three years ago, demonstrating this shared progress,”  said Rebecca Bech, deputy administrator for APHIS’ plant protection and quarantine  program.  “Reaching this milestone  confirms the commitment of local, state and federal partners to eradicate the  pest.”

In  Worcester County, for 2008 and 2009 combined, the eradication program  identified nearly 17,000 infested trees.   In 2010, with an increased survey effort, the program identified just  over 2,200 infested trees.  Currently in  2011, the program has found 1,152 trees infested by the beetle.  This represents 93 percent less infested  trees in 2011 than in 2008/2009 season.

Surveys of host trees are being  completed by ground and aerial survey personnel, and contractors.  This month the program will bring back 16  U.S. Forest Service (USFS) smoke jumpers to assist climbers with aerial  surveys.  Smoke jumpers have previously  assisted with survey efforts in the state.

“The  information we gain today will help determine what eradication tactics will be  used in the future,” said Christine Markham, APHIS national director of the ALB  cooperative eradication program.  “ALB  eradication strategies are based on each specific infestation, and are a  function of information obtained through survey work, including levels of  infestation, host distribution and density and pest population dynamics.”

In  2011 and 2010, the eradication program treated key areas within the central  Massachusetts regulated area to prevent the infestation from expanding outward.  In 2010, over 62,000 trees were treated.   In 2011, the number rose to over 135,000 treated trees.  Treatment has been a critical course of  action in the efforts to protect the hardwood forests of Worcester

County,  and beyond.  Treatment applications are  used as a control tactic; however, the eradication program is still working to  delimit the infested area within Worcester County.  Full delimitation of the central  Massachusetts infestation is expected to be completed by 2013.

APHIS  continues to work within its own agency, as well as partnering agencies and  organizations on research to develop or enhance eradication strategies.  The agency is assisting different entities on  various research efforts and feasibility studies ranging from the use of dogs  to detect the presence of ALB, several varying beetle lure traps, and  alternative treatment options, all of which garner hope of aiding in early  detection and/or eradication strategies.

The  mission of the eradication program is to help save trees and to eradicate the  invasive ALB from each affected state.   Residents can assist eradication efforts by allowing program officials  access to their property to evaluate susceptible trees for any signs of ALB  infestation and/or to remove host trees designated for removal.  Residents in ALB regulated areas are asked to  refrain from moving firewood and wood debris outside the regulated area, as the  insect can be unknowingly transported to new areas.

Early detection of ALB infestations is crucial because it  can limit an infested area and the number of trees destroyed.  If you find signs of ALB, you can help to  stop the spread by reporting your findings.  To report ALB, or other signs of an ALB  infestation, or if you have questions about control and eradication efforts,  please call the ALB cooperative eradication program in your state.  For residents in New England, to reach the  ALB cooperative eradication program in Massachusetts, call 1-866-702-9938.  More information about the ALB can be found  at www.aphis.usda.gov and click on “Asian Longhorned Beetle” under the “Hot  Issues” heading.   You may also log on to www.beetlebusters.info.

The Massachusetts ALB cooperative eradication program is comprised of  APHIS, USFS, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation,  Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the City of Worcester, the  towns of West Boylston, Boylston, Shrewsbury, Holden and Auburn, the City of  Boston and the town of Brookline.