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AG Secretary Visits First Line of Defense
Against Foreign Plant Pests
For Immediate Release: September 15, 1999 Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic


New 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.

Because 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.