Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) wants his community to be on the lookout for the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), a non-indigenous insect that kills healthy trees. Once a tree is infested it cannot be saved, and must be removed and destroyed to prevent the beetle from spreading to other trees.
“The Asian Longhorned Beetle is a threat to our community,” warned Lentol. “It may look like a little bug, but I assure you it is a big problem.”
A massive infestation in Greenpoint was literally rooted out in 1999 when over 1,000 trees had to be destroyed because of the beetle. Last spring, the New York State Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication Program found 18 infested trees in Williamsburg. Thirteen of the 18 trees were on Lynch St, the rest on nearby Lee Avenue and Heyward St.
“We thought we eradicated it from the district in 1999, but last year it returned,” said Lentol. “We’re lucky that last year’s infestation appears to have been small, but the key to keeping the Asian Longhorned Beetle from destroying our trees is through awareness.”
The New York City Parks Department has set up an aggressive program to fight the ALB this spring, the time of year when the beetle begins to infest new trees. Assemblyman Lentol strongly encourages people to visit http://www.nycgovparks.org/ for complete access to information on prevention and treatment. In general, the Asian Longhorned Beetle is known to nest in all varieties of maple, as well as birch, horse chestnut, elm, willow, poplar, ash, hackberry, sycamore, London Plane and mimosa.
“Homeowners should look for exit holes on their trees, which will be about the size of a dime,” Lentol explained. “I also encourage homeowners to grant environmental inspectors access to their property for the purpose of finding infested trees.”
Lentol says that residents who spot the beetle or infested trees should report it by calling 1-877-STOP-ALB or 311. The United States Forest Service offers replanting of new trees to anyone who lose trees to the beetle. The insecticide imidacloprid is the only effective preventative measure against the beetle, though experts warn that it cannot help a tree once it is infested. ALB Eradication Program contractors use it during the spring to treat at-risk trees. Residents will be notified by the ALB Eradication Program when tree treatments take place in this area, and Assemblyman Lentol urges residents to work with program officials and provide them access to yard trees for these critical applications and for survey.