10-year beetle battle predicted.


Byline: Bill Fortier

CHARLTON - A University of Massachusetts entomologist said at a statewide conference yesterday at Bigelow Nursery on Dresser Hill that Worcester will be battling the Asian longhorned beetles for the next decade.

"I'm thinking it's going to be 10 years for Worcester to get a handle on it, and they will get a handle on it," said Robert D. Childs, a professor in Plant, Soil & Insect Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Nurseries and Landscape Association Inc. The conference drew more than 500 people.

The voracious, tree-destroying beetle was found in Worcester early in August 2008.

Since then, about 28,000 beetle-infested and high-risk trees have been cut down.

Meanwhile, about 62,000 healthy trees in the 74-square-mile regulated area that includes Worcester, West Boylston and parts of Holden, Boylston and Shrewsbury have been inoculated with the insecticide Imidacloprid, Mr. Childs said. Maple trees are most commonly attacked by the beetles, experts have said.

While the insecticide keeps trees from being attacked, it doesn't protect them once the beetle burrows in, Mr. Childs said.

Progress is being made, he said.

For example, when the beetle attack was first noted in the Burncoat-Greendale section of Worcester, there was evidence of the invasion everywhere, Mr. Childs said. So far this year, 29 beetles have been spotted in Worcester and nine of them were found in an experimental trap designed at Penn State that is being used to help detect their presence.

"This is great stuff," Mr. Child said of the lower numbers.

However, Mr. Childs, who estimated the beetle had been in the infested area of the city for about 15 years before it was discovered, and Jennifer Forman Orth of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Services, said the beetles are most active in August.

With the recent news that two infested trees in Shrewsbury had been found earlier this month in the Route 70 area, within the regulated zone, and six beetle-attacked trees were discovered across the street from the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain over the Independence Day holiday week, people have been calling the hot line of Ms. Forman Orth's agency with purported Asian longhorned beetle sightings.

"I think with the recent findings there is a lot of public awareness of the problem," said Ms. Forman Orth, who spoke along with Mr. Childs during an hour-long presentation entitled "Asian...

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