(TRENTON) – Workers will begin cutting down
trees infested with the Asian longhorned beetle in
Middlesex and Union counties on Monday, November 29.
To prepare the public for what to expect during this
process, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles
M. Kuperus and USDA officials will lead local leaders
and the media on a tour of the first area to be cut
on Tuesday, November 23, at 3:30 p.m. The tour will
begin at Blair Road and Roosevelt Avenue in Carteret,
near a mobile home park and along a stream that will
see most of the initial cutting activity.
“The team working to eradicate this invasive pest from our state has enjoyed
a high level of cooperation with local officials and residents as they have inspected
trees to find evidence of the beetle,” Secretary Kuperus said. “We
want to ensure that kind of cooperation continues as we move into the tree-cutting
phase, so we will address any questions about how this will be done, when it
will be done and why it must be done.”
To date, 410 trees have been identified as infested, meaning they have
evidence of the beetle’s eggs being laid in them or have exit holes
indicating larvae have matured and the adult beetle has exited after
burrowing through the tree’s heartwood. The vast majority of those
trees have been found in Carteret and Woodbridge, Middlesex County, with
a few each in Rahway and Linden in Union County.
In addition to those trees, potential host trees near infested ones also
must be removed to ensure the beetle does not return. In the first phase
of cutting, roughly 1,000 trees are expected to be removed to halt the
beetle’s spread. Eventually, as many as 4,000 trees will have to
come down. A reforestation program, replacing those trees with varieties
the beetle will not infest, will follow.
Asian longhorned beetles, native to China and Korea, have caused serious
tree losses in New York State and Chicago. Only once before were the
beetles found attacking trees in New Jersey, in Jersey City in October
2002. More than 100 infested trees and 400 trees total at that site were
removed to eradicate the beetle.
The beetle can wreak havoc on hardwood trees such as maples, horsechestnuts,
birches and elms. The female bores into the bark to lay her eggs. Once
hatched, the grub-like young burrow deeper into the tree until finally
reaching the woody tissue. A year later, as adults, they burrow back
out. Ultimately, as many beetles burrow through a tree, the tree is killed
from the inside out. Trees can become so riddled with burrowed tunnels
that they become unsafe, especially during high winds or storms.
Asian longhorned beetles are about 1 to 1.5 inches long and have a shiny,
black exterior with white spots. Their name comes from their long antennae,
which are banded black and white and are roughly the same length or longer
than the insect’s body.
Anyone suspecting the presence of this beetle should contact the NJDA
at 1-866-BEETLE-1 or (609) 292-5440. For more information, visit the
NJDA website at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/alblinks.htm or
the USDA website at www.aphis.usda.gov.