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