USDA warns Western MA residents of Asian longhorned beetle - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

USDA warns Western MA residents of Asian longhorned beetle

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants Western Massachusetts residents to pay close attention to their trees, as August is "Tree Check Month."

They are asking people to be on the lookout for the Asian longhorned beetle.

"In the early 1990s, it became apparent that this was going to be a pest," said Ryan Vazquez, a supervisor with the USDA.

The beetle is known as a tree-killer. The insect, which officials say came to the United States on packaging material from Asia, burrows its way inside a tree and lays its eggs.

"Once a tree has been found to be infested, it has to be chipped up and removed to be sure that this beetle has been eliminated," Vazquez said.

Kevin Wedemeyer, an arborist with C. L. Frank and Company out of Northampton for the past 15 years, told CBS 3 that what makes this beetle different from other pests is the type of tree it goes after.

"They attack live, healthy trees," said Wedemeyer. "Other insects, or wood-boring beetles, attack vulnerable or weakened trees."

There have been no reported cases of the Asian longhorned beetle in Western Mass, but with the Worcester area hit hard, Wedemeyer said it would not take much to see an infestation.

"What we can't control is people moving firewood," said Wedemeyer. "Often times, if a tree is dead, it may have died from the Asian longhorned beetle. It makes perfect firewood, especially hardwood species."

The USDA said that little beetle could have a $1 billion impact.

"It can affect the landscape of New England, the forest ecology, lumber and timber industry, maple syrup and tourism, which is a huge economic part of New England," said Vazquez

Anyone who thinks they may have signs of a tree with the beetle is asked to call the USDA at a toll-free hotline: 866-702-9938.

If the tree is infested, the USDA said they will remove it at no cost to the resident.

They will refurbish the land and possibly replace the infested tree with one that the beetle would not feed on.

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