Pralls Island


Tuesday, March 27, 2007
No. 28

New Evidence of Tree-Killing Pest in Bloomfield and on Prall’s Island

The New York City Department of New York Parks & Recreation, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYS DAM), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that the Asian Longhorned beetle (ALB), an insect classified by the USDA as an invasive species and an imminent threat to the United States and New York City’s forest ecosystem, has spread to Staten Island. An infested silver maple tree, located on a private wood lot in Bloomfield, is the first evidence of the beetle found on mainland Staten Island, and was detected on March 22, 2007 by USDA tree climbers. Surveys intensified on Staten Island since the detection of infested trees on nearby Prall’s Island. To date, only one infested tree has been detected on the mainland and survey crews will continue to inspect ALB host trees to determine if any additional trees are infested. Due south, on the 88-acre, uninhabited Prall’s Island which is owned and operated by Parks & Recreation as a bird sanctuary, 37 ALB-infested red maple and gray birch trees have been discovered since March 1, 2007. Not all trees on Prall’s Island have been surveyed.

"The Asian Longhorned beetle is the most serious insect threat the city has ever faced – one that left unchecked could kill half of our trees," stated Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "The beetle lays eggs on, bores into, feeds on, and ultimately kills otherwise healthy hardwood trees. Federal funding to combat the Asian Longhorned Beetle has decreased dramatically over the years, and this recent discovery of the first infested tree on mainland Staten Island, which follows the discovery of infested trees on nearby Prall’s Island, is a timely reminder that this persistent beetle will remain a real threat to the City’s landscape and ecological health unless we step up awareness, eradication efforts, and funding."

The Asian Longhorned beetle, native to China, Japan and Korea, is a voracious pest of our nation’s deciduous hardwood forests and urban landscape. It deposits eggs into healthy hardwood trees. After hatching, the developing beetle bores into the trees and feeds on living tree tissue during the larval stage. Later, throughout the summer, adult beetles emerge from exit holes and briefly feed on the small twigs and leaves of host trees. The beetle attacks many different hardwood trees including all species of maple, birch, horsechestnut, poplar, willow, elm, ash, mimosa (silk tree), hackberry, London plane, sycamore, and mountain ash. Signs of an infested tree include round pits in tree bark, oozing sap, accumulation of sawdust from larvae boring, and round exit holes. The ALB emerges in early July and becomes dormant in late October.

The ALB-infested tree in Bloomfield sports light damage in the form of ten egg sites in its canopy. When inspected by USDA climbers in May 2006 just prior to flight season, the tree was not infested, leading experts to believe that the tree has been infested for less than a year. USDA surveyors inspected the wood lot following the confirmation of significant infestation on nearby Prall’s Island, which is located in close proximity to ALB-infested areas in New Jersey. Parks continues to work with partner agencies on the federal and state levels to monitor both infested areas of Staten Island for further signs of the beetle, develop strategies to remove infested and potential host trees, and dispose of removed trees in a manner with minimal ecological impacts.

The Asian Longhorned beetle was first discovered in 1996 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Since then, Parks has been working with United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and New York State Department of Agricultural and Markets to regularly survey and remove infested trees. The Asian Longhorned Beetle attacks and kills over 25 species of hardwood trees in North America and has destroyed over 4,000 trees in neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens to date. In 2007 to date, 14 ALB-infested trees have been found in Queens, and four infested trees have been found in Brooklyn.

The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and United States Department of Agriculture encourage New Yorkers to help in the battle against the Asian Longhorned beetle. The Asian Longhorned Beetle is about 1 to 1.5 inches long, has a shiny, jet-black body with distinctive white spots and long antennae that are banded with black and white. Signs to look for are round exit holes about the size of a dime and coarse sawdust created by beetle larvae as they bore into the main tree stem and branches. There may also be oval pits in the tree bark that are egg-laying niches. Sap may flow from these niches, especially on maple trees, as the larvae feed inside the tree. Residents can also assist in the eradication efforts by allowing project officials access to their property to inspect their trees. To report a sighting of this pest, call 311 or (877) STOP-ALB.

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