Anti-beetle treatment wraps up

July 8, 2011
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JAMAICA HILLS—Approximately 1,921 trees were treated with pesticide in a plan to control the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) that wrapped up June 24, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA originally estimated that 3,200 trees needed treatment under the plan, which began June 6. The actual number of vulnerable trees turned out to be lower.

ALB is an invasive species that destroys hardwood trees. ALBs were found a year ago in trees at Faulkner Hospital at 1153 Centre St. The treatment plan involved injecting pesticide into the trunks or soil of vulnerable trees in a quarter-mile radius of the hospital. A second round of pesticide treatment will come next spring.

Private property owners were cooperative in the pesticide treatment. Of more than 90 property owners in the target area, only four did not sign releases authorizing pesticide use—which amounted to nine untreated trees, according to USDA spokesperson Rhonda Santos.

Arnold Arboretum was a major target of pesticide treatment. While USDA officials previously said about 400 trees would be treated in just one section of the Arboretum, it appears that number is the rough total of all Arboretum trees needing treatment.

Most of Jamaica Plain remains under a quarantine that bans wood from being transported in or out of the neighborhood.

No new ALB cases have been found since the Faulkner Hospital discovery one year ago this week. But the USDA continues to check out reported sightings, though Santos could not say how many reports there have been.

The Gazette saw one of the mistaken sightings firsthand last month at BMS Paper Company on Washington Street, where two street trees flanking the driveway bear a number of deep holes. A resident reported discovering a beetle in one of the holes, and went to the trouble of mounting and freezing the beetle for further study. But USDA investigators found that the holes were not caused by ALB, Santos told the Gazette.

The ALB is a large black beetle with white spots and long antennae. For more information about it, see beetlebusters.info. To report a possible ALB sighting, contact the Massachusetts Asian Longhorned Beetle Program at 866-702-9938.

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