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Photo of display of Asian longhorned beetle - Click to enlarge
For Immediate Release: April 7, 2008
Contact: Lynne Richmond 
(609) 633-2954

(JERSEY CITY) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus joined with United States Department of Agriculture representatives today to declare the five-year cooperative effort to rid Jersey City and Hoboken of the tree-killing Asian longhorned beetle a success.

“By working together aggressively, the Asian longhorned beetle has been eradicated in the Hudson County quarantine zone, a true success story of partnerships between governments and private citizens,” said Secretary Kuperus.  “The main goal of this operation was to save trees, which is especially important to the quality of life in our cities, and it is extremely gratifying to see that trees are flourishing in Jersey City and Hoboken because of all of our efforts.”

The Asian longhorned beetle was first discovered in New Jersey when a concerned citizen saw the bug fly onto a tree in Jersey City in October of 2002.  Surveys found 113 infested trees in the city’s Newport section.   The New Jersey Department of Agriculture quarantined that area and the surrounding area within a one and a half mile radius to prevent the beetle’s spread.  The quarantine restricted the movement of firewood, green lumber and other living, dead, cut or fallen material, including nursery stock, logs, stumps, roots and branches from potential host trees.  Those items could be moved within the quarantined area but not outside of it.

Photo of David Kaplan, Jamie LeFrak, Mayor Jerramiah Hely and Secretary Kuperus“The Asian longhorned beetle represents too great a threat to our nation’s urban, suburban and forest trees to accept anything less than its complete eradication from the United States,” said Dr. David Kaplan, Assistant Deputy Administrator, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture. “This significant milestone for Hudson County, the State of New Jersey and the U.S. Department of Agriculture demonstrates that success against the beetle can be achieved when committed and dedicated people work together to share resources, personnel and expertise.”

All of the infested trees were found in Jersey City.  City officials provided a great deal of support for the program during the more than 5-year operation.

“We are pleased to hear that the hard work of the Department of Agriculture has been a success,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy.  “We know how destructive the Asian longhorned beetle can be, and we are glad to hear it is eradicated in Jersey City.”

As part of the eradication effort, the 113 infested trees as well as 348 at-risk host trees were removed, many of which were on the property of the Lefrak Organization, a major developer in the area.  The New Jersey Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection worked with the Lefrak Organization and other property owners to replant 433 trees.  The trees were replaced through a $477,228 grant from the United States Forest Service in the USDA to the Department of Environmental Protection’s Community Forestry Program.

“We at Newport are proud of our role as a partner with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, DEP and USDA/APHIS in the success of  this very important effort to eradicate the Asian longhorned beetle,” said Jamie LeFrak, Managing Director of the Lefrak Organization, one of the owners of the Newport project.  “This  successful partnership has significance beyond its accomplishment in achieving  the timely completion of the tree removal and replanting process here at Newport; it also  helped to safeguard the precious forest resources in the Northeast United States.”

Asian longhorned beetles are about 1 to 1.5 inches long and have a shiny black exterior with white spots.  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, then 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, the best way to eliminate the pest is by cutting, chipping or burning the tree.

In August 2004, a second infestation was discovered in New Jersey in Carteret Borough, Middlesex County, unrelated to the Hudson County outbreak.  The infestation involved 616 trees and required the quarantine of an area encompassing seven municipalities:  Clark, Roselle Borough, the City of Elizabeth, Linden, Rahway, Carteret and Woodbridge. 

In addition to the 616 infested trees, 20,903 at-risk host trees were removed.  Again, working with the Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Forest Service, 4,977 trees were replanted.  Surveys in the Middlesex/Union County quarantine zone are continuing.  No infested trees have been discovered since April of 2006.

“We may have won the battle in Hudson County, but there is a continuing vigorous Photo of Kaplan, Secretary Kuperus and NJDA Asian longhorned beetle creweffort to fight the beetle in central Jersey,” said Secretary Kuperus.  “We have taken the Hudson County model and applied it in Middlesex and Union Counties and hope for the same outcome – complete eradication -- in the next few years.

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 the beetles first entered the country inside solid wood packing material coming from China.