Fighting the beetles

A groundskeeper at the Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain recently spotted the voracious and vicious Asian long horned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) feasting on a mature shade tree last week.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in fact confirmed the discovery of the longhorned beetle in six red maple trees on the hospital grounds.

The trees have been destroyed and the grounds closely monitored.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation has issued an indefinite quarantine on 1.5 miles of land surrounding the infestation.

This was bad news for those of us who understand the value of mature shade trees in our neighborhoods.

City officials responsible for dealing with a possible infestation of the dreaded beetles said they believed that only six trees in Jamaica Plain are so far effected – but six trees is enough as far as we’re concerned.

In Worcester, an infestation of the beetles there during the past year has cost the city and its neighborhoods an estimated 27,000 mature shade trees.

The cost of cutting down those trees and removing them is in the vicinity of $50 million.

Obviously, an infestation here – in Paul Revere Park, on Beacon Hill, in Back Bay and throughout the city would be disastrous.

Imagine the Esplanade absent of its magnificent umbrella of mature shade trees.

How about the Arboretum?

When an infestation occurs, the possibilities are odious.

Detection of the beetles feeding on trees early on is what defending against an infestation is all about.

Wherever the beetles eat they leave a saw dust trail – also, they leave large exit holes behind.

DCR is remaining vigilant. The city is taking added precautions and seeking new technology to detect the presence of the beetles.

Be a friend to your trees – check them out carefully everyday for the dreaded beetle.