The Asian Longhorned Beetle Marches On

photo_alb closeupThis month, the Asian longhorned beetle was discovered outside the eradication zone in Worcester, Mass. and the surrounding area. A resident found one of the insects in the town of West Boylston, and officials say the beetles have probably been there for about two years.

As I mentioned in my August post, the federal and state government programs to control this pest have already resulted in the destruction of more than 25,000 trees. Now it looks as though despite their best efforts, the ALB is spreading.

In addition to cutting down trees, the USDA has been injecting imidacloprid, a pesticide, into the soil to protect healthy trees from from beetle infestations.

Photo: Rich Dugas - Worcester Telegram

Photo: Rich Dugas - Worcester Telegram

In a new, research-based phase of the program, the government will now expand the pesticide treatments into the fall, to determine whether they can be effective at this time of year. Until now, treatments have been done mainly in the spring. And three additional chemicals will be tested as part of this pilot program: clothianidin, emamectin benzoate and dinotefuran.

Not everyone is happy about this research. The Massachusetts Pesticide Board wants more information on the environmental impact and the monitoring of the effects of imidacloprid. The state is also leery of the USDA’s plan to raise the pesticide’s use to triple the current limit, and it is not alone. Groups such as “Safelawns” warn that imidacloprid could be linked to the collapse of honeybee colonies, and that treating the soil around trees could pollute groundwater and harm wildlife.

Meanwhile, in Worcester, some officials say MORE pesticide treatments are necessary, and that the treatments should be expanded to include a much larger area.

And as the debate continues, the beetle marches on…


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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2 Responses to The Asian Longhorned Beetle Marches On

  1. anon says:

    The West Boylston finds were actually within the quarantine zone, but near the edge, so the zone will likely expand soon. The trees found there have been infested for at least 2-3 years, so this is not evidence that the infestation is spreading – ALB was at this newer site before the eradication program showed up.


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