(TRENTON) -- At least 300 mature trees infested with the Asian longhorned beetle have been found in an industrial area of Linden between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Arthur Kill this week, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus announced today.
“Our cooperative efforts with federal, state and local partners to eradicate this invasive pest cannot cease until we have located all such infestations in New Jersey and dealt with them,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Wiping out this particular infestation, which appears to date back at least six or seven years, will help us prevent the future spread of this very damaging insect.”
The Asian longhorned beetle, or ALB, was first discovered in New Jersey in 2002 in Jersey City, after its initial United States finding in 1996 in the Green Point section of Brooklyn. A second New Jersey infestation was found in 2004 in Middlesex and Union counties in the towns of Carteret, Rahway, Woodbridge and Linden. The ALB is believed to have entered the country in untreated wooden packing materials coming from Asia.
The beetles, native to China and Korea, have the ability to devastate New Jersey’s urban forests and street trees. An adult female gouges a hole into the bark, where a single egg is laid. Once hatched, the larvae burrows further into the tree until it reaches the heartwood and pupates into an adult. As an adult, it continues burrowing through the tree until it emerges, starting in late spring and early summer, creating a perfectly round, nearly dime-sized exit hole. Once enough beetles infest a tree, they will kill it.
The beetles will colonize a tree until it is so riddled with tunnels that it becomes dangerous, as limbs and braches may fall onto passersby. Once a tree is infested, no pesticide treatment is effective and the tree must be taken down. In addition, any nearby host trees also must be removed to ensure that the beetle has not infested them as well. The ALB prefers maples, elms, horsechestnuts and several other tree varieties as hosts. Trees it will not infest include oaks and pines.
Many of the infested trees found Tuesday in eastern Linden bore signs of long-term infestation, such as healed-over exit holes. This infestation is being seen as a clue to earlier findings of individual infested trees without others close by, said Carl Schulze, Director of the NJDA’s Division of Plant Industry.
While the newly discovered infestation area was not a part of the existing quarantine zone, Schulze said trees there were examined after staff members from the Agriculture Department and USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) “began doing some computer modeling based on the last few isolated finds and decided this was an area we should be looking at.”
“Finding this before (the time when) they emerge benefits our eradication program,” Schulze said. “This is what we had been looking for when we were doing the computer modeling. We now believe this is where that population was coming from.”
The recent discovery of a single infested horsechestnut tree in northern Linden triggered the expansion of the existing quarantine zone to also include parts of Roselle Borough and Elizabeth, where survey work will be done to determine if the beetle has infested any trees in those towns.
The Department and USDA will again expand the quarantine zone due to the new find in eastern Linden. The expansion is not expected to add any other New Jersey municipalities not already touched by the quarantine. However, it is expected to add an area of Staten Island that would be under the jurisdiction of New York State.
For more information on the Asian longhorned beetle, visit the Department's Asian longhorned beetle website.