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For Immediate Release: March 1, 2005 Contact:

Jeff Beach

(TRENTON) – A public outreach session on the Asian longhorned beetle will be held Thursday, March 10 at 7 p.m. at the Rahway City Library, 2 City Hall Plaza, to inform residents about the expanded quarantine zone and the need to take down approximately 1,400 trees as a result of that expansion.

“The new quarantine zone will result in more trees being removed, but it is imperative that this be done to prevent the spread of this destructive, invasive pest,” New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus said. “No one likes to see trees cut down, but the eradication method of removing high-risk host trees near infested trees has been proven effective. As with the other trees that have been removed in this infestation and in the earlier Jersey City infestation, these trees will be replaced with varieties the beetle will not infest.”

The Asian longhorned beetle was first found in the border area of Middlesex and Union counties last August by a Carteret resident who noticed one of the insects on a tree in his yard. That discovery led to more in the area, and a quarantine zone was established that covered parts of Carteret and Woodbridge in Middlesex County, as well as Rahway and Linden in Union County. Approximately 4,000 trees were slated to be cut down in that original quarantine zone. More than 1,500 already have been removed. In the quarantine area, there are restrictions on the movement of firewood and other materials in which the beetle could be hiding.

An infested tree found in Rahway in November near the western border of the previously existing quarantine zone created the need to expand the boundaries. Because the tree had not only egg sites but also exit holes, the quarantine was expanded by an additional quarter-mile.

Survey crews are now examining the trees in that additional area to determine how many, if any, are infested. However, high-risk host trees within the quarter-mile area must be removed to ensure the beetle’s eradication.

The beetle, native to China and Korea, infests a variety of hardwood trees, including maples, birches horsechestnut, poplar, willow, elm, ash and black locust. The beetle will not infest oaks, evergreens and a variety of others, which will be used as replacement trees for those cut down.

After hatching from an egg site scratched into the bark by its mother, the beetle burrows into the tree, eventually tunneling through the heartwood. It then metamorphoses into an adult and chews its way back out of the tree. The insect was first detected in New Jersey in 2002 in Jersey City. It was first discovered in the United States in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. The infestation in Middlesex and Union counties is believed to be about six years old, and recent DNA tests have shown the beetles there to be a separate introduction from the one that occurred in Jersey City.

The beetle is between 1 and 1½ inches long, is black with white spots and has long antennae that are banded black and white. Anyone suspecting the presence of this beetle should call the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at 1-866-BEETLE-1 or (609) 292-5440. For more information about the March 10 public session, please call (609) 292-5531. For the latest information on the Department's Asian longhorned beetle eradication efforts, visit www.state.nj.us/agriculture/alblinks.htm.