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Asian longhorned beetle in New York City

While this blog typically focuses on the efforts of eradicating Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) (Anaplophora glabripennis) in Massachusetts, we are not the only state dealing with the invasive pest. ALB was discovered in New York City in 1996, well before its discovery in Massachusetts and Ohio. Twenty-three years later, in October 2019, the infestations in New York City were declared officially eradicated and the program office in Queens has been closed. What did it take to accomplish this important goal? The answers are very similar to the work currently ongoing in Worcester right now.

As with Worcester, the infestation in New York City was first discovered and reported by a member of the public. Careful observation of a damaged Norway maple by a resident revealed a suspicious beetle emerging from a round hole, and the resident notified the New York City Parks Department. The insect was confirmed as ALB. In time, a 112 square mile quarantine was established in New York City, encompassing Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, with rules similar to the quarantine in Worcester (host trees, firewood, and other woody material could not be moved out of this quarantine). Unlike Worcester, which has a lot of urban forests and open spaces, surveyors in New York City had to deal with issues of property access: many trees that had to be surveyed were in backyards behind rowhouses or on rooftop gardens and could only be accessed after getting permission to enter through someone’s home. By comparison, a lot of the urban trees in Worcester are street trees or on much more open lawns that can be accessed without homeowners having to be there.

In the end, consistent negative results from surveying allowed USDA to declare eradication. A total of 2,327 infested trees and 139 high-risk trees were removed from Brooklyn and Queens, and 15,663 were removed from all of New York City.

The regulated area encompassing parts of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City.

Despite the different challenges posed by each city, the methods are largely the same: establishing a quarantine and thoroughly surveying every host tree, removing infested trees, and ensuring the beetle and infested wood does not leave the quarantine. This method of survey and selective tree removal combined with outreach and education to increase public awareness leads to the successful eradication of Asian longhorned beetle. Given the current trend of finding fewer infested trees per year in the Worcester area, we are confident that the situation in Massachusetts will also ultimately end in declared eradication too.

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