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Voracious Insect Found in Carteret Neighborhood

For Immediate Release: August 5, 2004


Jeff Beach




(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus today confirmed the discovery of an Asian longhorned beetle in Carteret Borough, Middlesex County.

A Carteret resident discovered the beetle – which is native to China and capable of causing widespread damage to maple and other hardwood trees – on a tree in his back yard on August 2 and notified authorities. The species of beetle was confirmed on Wednesday, August 4, and further investigation revealed an infested crimson-king maple tree on city property.

Asian longhorned beetles have caused serious tree losses in New York State and Chicago, but have been found attacking trees only once before in New Jersey. In October 2002, an area within 1½ miles of a 9-acre site in Jersey City was quarantined to prevent the spread of the insect. More than 100 infested trees at that site were removed to eliminate the beetle.

“We have already begun the process of containing this potentially damaging insect as we did in Jersey City in 2002. The Department is taking protective measures to ensure that it does not spread to other areas,” said Secretary Kuperus. “These precautions are necessary because this beetle could cause devastating damage to Northeast forests if allowed to spread.”

Restrictions on the movement of firewood, tree trimmings and nursery products will be instituted in a one-mile radius around the property where the beetle was found, said Carl Schulze, Director of the NJDA’s Division of Plant Industry.

“We want to make sure that any wood that may be infested with the beetle does not get moved out of the area,” Schulze said. “Tree climbers will be in the area in the coming days to inspect trees to determine how large this infestation is.”

“The Department is working with the USDA to inspect trees within at least a one-mile radius, looking for signs of the beetle, and that radius might increase as the investigation continues," said Secretary Kuperus. "The battle to eradicate the longhorned beetle requires a cooperative approach. Municipal, county, state and federal governments, along with the public, all need to work side by side to eradicate this pest. We are committed to marshalling the same effort in Carteret as we did in Jersey City, and we will reach out to residents to make sure they know what our actions are going to be.”

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. The beetles typically attack one tree, and migrate to others when their populations become too dense.

The female beetles chew holes in the bark, where they lay 35 to 90 eggs at a time. The young hatch in 10 to 15 days and are at first white and grub-like. They burrow beneath the tree bark to the cambium layer. After feeding there for several weeks, they enter the woody tissue of the tree. Once the beetle is deep inside the tree, applying pesticides does little to eradicate them. Usually, trees must be cut, chipped or burned to eliminate this pest.

The Department is working with the USDA, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and officials from Carteret and Middlesex County on the containment of the beetle.

Asian longhorned beetles were first discovered in the United States in 1996 in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, and were found again in 2001 in Manhattan’s Central Park. USDA officials have determined that they first entered the country inside solid wood packing material coming from China.

Signs of Asian longhorned beetle infestation include:

- Large round holes anywhere on the tree, including branches, trunk and exposed roots
- Oval or rounded, darkened wounds in the bark
- Large piles of coarse sawdust around the base of trees or where branches meet the main stem

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 APHIS Web site at www.aphis.usda.gov and click on Asian longhorned beetle under "Hot Issues" or visit the Rutgers Cooperative Extension web site at www.rce.rutgers.edu/presentations and click on Asian Long-Horned Beetle under “Plant Agriculture.”