Jersey Agriculture Secretary Art Brown, Jr., toured
the Frances Krim Memorial Plant Inspection Station
in Linden today and then watched as inspectors
checked trees in a sample plot for signs of devastating
Asian long-horned beetles. The visit was one of
many made in Union County by Governor Christie
Whitman and her Cabinet. The Krim Station is the
newest of 15 plant inspections stations established
at ports of entry around the country by USDA's
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
At these stations, APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine
(PPQ) inspectors work with entomologists, botanists
and plant pathologists to examine imported propagative
material, fruits and vegetables for pest risks.
When quarantine-significant pests, diseases, seeds
or nematodes are found, PPQ officials prescribe
and administer appropriate safeguards and treatments.
Of the estimated 500 million plants that are shipped
into the United States by brokers, travelers and
nursery owners, more than two million pass through
the Krim Station each year. Inspectors there also
monitor adherence to the provisions of the Convention
on the International Trade in Endangered Species
of Flora and Fauna and the Endangered Species Act.
Typical of the type of plant pest APHIS inspectors
try to keep out of the United States with port
inspections in the Asian long-horned beetle. Following
the tour of the Krim Plant Inspection Station,
Brown went to a small park at the intersection
of Donaldson, West Blancke and Spruce Streets which
serves as a sample plot in the search for signs
of the Asian long-horned beetle. There a tree climber
from Aspen Tree Experts demonstrated the tree-climbing
technique necessary to inspect for signs of the
beetle. For over two years, NJDA has been working
with APHIS and NJDEP's Bureau of Forestry in an
effort to determine if the pest has reached New
Jersey. The beetle's extremely destructive habits
could have potentially devastating economic consequences
for New Jersey's nursery industry if it were to
take hold in the state, not to mention the tremendous
losses which could be suffered in residential areas
as well as forested areas of the state where its
primary host trees are found. To date, no signs
of the pest have been found here. The beetle was
originally discovered in 1996 in the Greenpoint
section of Brooklyn and a small area near Amityville,
NY. It has surfaced most recently in Chicago and
in the area around Central Park in New York City.
Following the beetle's discovery in Brooklyn, NJDA
helped APHIS remove hundreds of trees infested
with Asian long-horned beetles. The removal and
replacement of infested trees cost the New York
Department of Agriculture approximately $2.5 million.
Moreover, although the beetle is not known to spread
very far from its host, APHIS staff, as well as
officials in many northeastern states, are extremely
concerned about the potential havoc this insect
could wreak if it were to arrive, for example,
in the sugar maple groves in Vermont, cutting a
path of destruction through every state it crosses.
Together APHIS and NJDA have conducted surveys
annually since 1997 in the northern half of the
state, including the northernmost part of Monmouth
County, the southeastern half of Sussex County,
most of Middlesex County and all of Bergen, Essex,
Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union Counties.
To date, no sign of the beetle has been found in
New Jersey. The adult black-and-white beetle is
about an inch long and very destructive to hardwood
trees, favoring all kinds of maples, horsechestnuts,
poplars, willows, elms, mulberries and black locusts.
To lay her eggs, the female chews small oval or
round niches in the outer bark of the tree. When
the immature worm-like beetles hatch, they bore
into trunks and branches and create immense tunnels
for themselves inside the trees. The adult beetles
chew their way out, usually in late spring or early
summer, leaving round exit holes about half the
size of a dime in their wake.
it is not native to this hemisphere, it has no
known natural enemies and no chemical control
has yet been identified. The only treatment is
complete removal of infected trees, following
by chipping and incineration. In Japan, China
and Korea, hardwood growers plant trap plots
of the insect's favorites and harvest and destroy
the trap trees to prevent the beetle from spreading
to the cash crop of trees.