I was browsing through the New York Times Science section when I came upon this happy headline:
But this month, New Jersey declared victory in its war against the Asian long-horned beetle, an invasive, hardwood-eating insect that arrived on the shores of New York City in 1996, most likely on wood pallets. The beetle has since surfaced in a total of five states and, by tunneling through tree trunks, has threatened some of the nation’s most common tree species, including maples, London planes, birches and poplars.
The beetles lay their eggs inside the bark of the tree, and after the eggs hatch, larvae feed on the trunk’s hardwood. “It kills a tree by eating the wood from the inside out,” said Rhonda Santos, a spokeswoman for the federal Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. “If you took a cross section of a tree infested by Asian long-horned beetles, it would look like Swiss cheese.”
More than 20,000 trees were removed in New Jersey during the struggle, but — knock on wood — the beetles are now vanquished from the Garden State. “It shows that the program works,” said Paul J. Kurtz, a state entomologist who led the eradication effort. “I’ve been doing this for 11 years nonstop, so it’s a little weird that it’s over. But at the same time, it’s like, ‘Wow, we did it.’ ”
Just because New Jersey has conquered the Asian long-horned beetle does not mean that Mr. Kurtz is idle. “If you’re not minding the store,” he said, “someone else could come in.” He was referring to the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect and fast flier that attacks ash trees and is now in 18 states, including Pennsylvania and New York. “It’s inevitable,” he said of the ash borer’s arrival. “We’re surrounded.”
Well done, Mr Kurtz. Well done, New Jersey!