Submitted by Ginny Kingsbury
The Asian Longhorned Beetle has been in the USA for about 25 years. Norway Maples have been in Worcester more than twice as long. After natural events had destroyed many of the trees in Worcester, the city fathers decided to replace the missing trees with Norway Maples. They were considered ideal city trees, they could withstand road salt and sand, they were free of any known disease or pests, they grew rapidly into big beautiful trees spreading full leafed branches for lining the streets and in the fall their arching canopies turned into gorgeous colors and accented other trees. Worcester already had many other species of trees growing throughout the city, such as paper or white birch and gray or silver birch. The Norway Maple lived up to its reputation of fast growing and eventually again, we had many tree lined streets This was typical of New England. Some locations had towering American Elm, Chestnut, Beech and other species.
It was a common practice to have both sides of the streets or avenues lined with trees of the same species in New England and in many Southern states.
Unfortunately, Elm trees started dying from Dutch Elm disease The same thing happened with the Chestnut trees but the Maples were still standing as beautiful as ever. At about that time, people were beginning to realize planting all the same trees or monoculture, in the same area, was not a good idea.
Enter the Asian Longhorned Beetle an enemy of all maples and other hardwood trees.
It was too late for us to plant a diversified tree population and who knew an invasive Beetle known as the Asian Longhorned Beetle would arrive in packing cases and cause havoc in some of our neighborhoods. In Worcester, we are unique among most cities large and small because we have a large densely populated urban forest with a hardy growth of many of the trees that can be hosts to the Asian Longhorned Beetle. Even more critical Worcester is the gateway to the hardwood forests of North America, including Canada.
The only known way to control the infestation of the Asian Longhorned Beetle is by carefully removing all the infested trees or injecting non-infested trees with Imidicloprid, a three-year protocol. If a tree on the three-year protocol was found to be infested, it would be taken off the protocol and it will be removed.
The Federal Government or USDA came into our cities, into our neighborhoods, and asked residents’ permission to remove trees that appeared to be healthy and beautiful. In some parts of the country, residents lost trees to disease such as American Elm and Chestnut trees. This was difficult, also, but it was a gradual loss of trees that appeared to be dying. We have had to suffer an abrupt traumatic change in our neighborhoods that took place in one day. The Federal Government has asked residents in the City of Worcester to make aesthetic sacrifices for many years to come. We are being asked to make this sacrifice in the best interest of all of North America.
As our large population of Norway Maple trees grew it became evident it was reproducing itself and people began to have more of those beautiful trees on their property without any effort. They were being labeled as an invasive species because of its ability to spread like a weed. Another observation foresters were making was its ability to grow in shaded areas, thus competing with the normal progression of forests to mature with a normal biodiversity of trees. This would eventually compromise natural wildlife habitats.
The residents of Worcester now have an emerging problem of new infestations from the Asian Longhorned Beetles in neighborhoods that have already suffered a loss. One way we can help minimize the new infestation is to learn how to recognize signs of the beetle on tree limbs and trunks and notify the USDA of any suspicious signs.
The telephone number for the local USDA is: 508-852-8090