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For Immediate Release: November 16, 2004


Jeff Beach




(TRENTON) – Workers will begin cutting down trees infested with the Asian longhorned beetle in Middlesex and Union counties on Monday, November 29. To prepare the public for what to expect during this process, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus and USDA officials will lead local leaders and the media on a tour of the first area to be cut on Tuesday, November 23, at 3:30 p.m. The tour will begin at Blair Road and Roosevelt Avenue in Carteret, near a mobile home park and along a stream that will see most of the initial cutting activity.

“The team working to eradicate this invasive pest from our state has enjoyed a high level of cooperation with local officials and residents as they have inspected trees to find evidence of the beetle,” Secretary Kuperus said. “We want to ensure that kind of cooperation continues as we move into the tree-cutting phase, so we will address any questions about how this will be done, when it will be done and why it must be done.”

To date, 410 trees have been identified as infested, meaning they have evidence of the beetle’s eggs being laid in them or have exit holes indicating larvae have matured and the adult beetle has exited after burrowing through the tree’s heartwood. The vast majority of those trees have been found in Carteret and Woodbridge, Middlesex County, with a few each in Rahway and Linden in Union County.

In addition to those trees, potential host trees near infested ones also must be removed to ensure the beetle does not return. In the first phase of cutting, roughly 1,000 trees are expected to be removed to halt the beetle’s spread. Eventually, as many as 4,000 trees will have to come down. A reforestation program, replacing those trees with varieties the beetle will not infest, will follow.

Asian longhorned beetles, native to China and Korea, have caused serious tree losses in New York State and Chicago. Only once before were the beetles found attacking trees in New Jersey, in Jersey City in October 2002. More than 100 infested trees and 400 trees total at that site were removed to eradicate the beetle.

The beetle can wreak havoc on hardwood trees such as maples, horsechestnuts, birches and elms. The female bores into the bark to lay her eggs. Once hatched, the grub-like young burrow deeper into the tree until finally reaching the woody tissue. A year later, as adults, they burrow back out. Ultimately, as many beetles burrow through a tree, the tree is killed from the inside out. Trees can become so riddled with burrowed tunnels that they become unsafe, especially during high winds or storms.

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 and are roughly the same length or longer than the insect’s body.

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 NJDA website at www.state.nj.us/agriculture/alblinks.htm or the USDA website at www.aphis.usda.gov.