JP remains beetle-free

July 6, 2012
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Two years after Jamaica Plain first saw Asian longhorned beetles (ALB), the neighborhood remains free of any further sightings of the tree-killing beetle.

JP can look forward to at least two more years of quarantine and possible pesticide treatments, despite the lack of new sightings since the Faulkner Hospital discovery two years ago this week.

“We are hoping the Boston area [beetles] will be declared eradicated sooner than any other area,” though that may mean another two years or more of monitoring, U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson Rhonda Santos told the Gazette last week.

After six infected trees were discovered at Faulkner Hospital in 2010, a quarantine area was declared for a 1.5-mile radius around the site. The quarantine includes nearly the whole of JP and Brookline and parts of Hyde Park and Dorchester.

Special yard-waste collection rules will apply in the restricted area for the duration. Any type of waste wood, such as fallen branches, has to be put at the curb in a separate paper leaf bag or marked barrel. Yard waste cannot be mixed with regular trash.

Meanwhile, the site set up at the Arborway bus yard for chipping the quarantined wood will remain until the restriction is lifted—likely 2014 at the earliest, Santos said.

“This is the second emergence season since ALB was detected in Boston, and thus it is important for folks to be on the lookout,” Santos said. ALBs would emerge in the Boston area around the first week of July.

Santos added that there are many variables that dictate how long an area is under quarantine, including the number of trees and staff available for inspections.

“Each affected area is distinct and therefore the timeframes differ,” she said.

The quarantined area was treated with pesticides this year and last. Approximately 2,000 trees were treated each year, Santos said.

“The program may pursue [pesticide] treatment in 2013, but that is still to be determined,” Santos added.

The ALB is considered an invasive species in North America, where it is a serious threat to many species of deciduous hardwood trees, including maples, birches, horse chestnuts, elms and willows. During the larval stage, the ALB bores deep into a tree’s heartwood, where it feeds on the tree’s nutrients. The tunneling damages and eventually kills the tree.

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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