, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 4, 2014

On the lookout for tree-killing beetles


In central Massachusetts, thousands of trees have been cut down in recent years to try to eradicate a different invasive menace, the Asian longhorned beetle. It’s likely no trees will be cut down to stop the emerald ash borer, because officials are using a strategy of containment, not eradication.

Instead, officials have said they are aiming to slow the beetle’s spread while the USDA works to introduce insects that prey on the bug. A similar strategy worked to contain gypsy moths.

The longhorned beetle attacks maple trees, and is a potentially larger threat. About 50 to 60 percent of Newburyport’s tree canopy consists of maple trees, Dylewski said. A small infestation of longhorned beetles was found in Jamaica Plain, and was controlled. Thus far none of the beetles have been found in the Newburyport area.

The city’s Tree Commission is currently seeking a commission member and an alternate member, according to chairman Ed Taylor. Members do not necessarily have to have expertise in botany or the study of trees to join the commission; people skilled in project management are being sought.

Facts about the emerald ash borer - A beetle that attacks white ash trees. Once infested, the tree usually dies within three years. - The adult female lays its eggs in crevices in the bark. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the inner bark, eventually destroying the tissue through which nutrients flow. - It most likely arrived in the U.S. from China, Korea and Japan through wooden packing materials made from white ash. - It does not appear to infest other tree species , according to Ken Gooch, forest health program supervisor for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. - It was first discovered in Massachusetts in August 2012 in the town of Dalton. - It was first detected in the U.S. in 2002 in the Detroit area. - The beetle has killed tens of millions of ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more lost in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Quebec, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, according to - Other pests that have attacked trees in Masschusetts: The Asian longhorned beetle, discovered in Worcester in 2008; and the gypsy moth, brought to Boston in the latter 19th century by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot, a French artist and scientist who envisioned starting a silkworm industry.

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