By Bob Kievra TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF (Worcester, MA)
WORCESTER, MA — More than 95,000 trees in Central Massachusetts are in line for chemical treatment this spring as federal officials continue their efforts to curb the Asian longhorned beetle infestation.
The treatments, slated to begin April 25, will cover approximately 2,100 acres in eight areas across Worcester, West Boylston, Holden, Boylston and Shrewsbury. The treatments should be completed by July 1. The insecticide imidacloprid will be administered by certified pesticide applicators under a USDA contract. The contract will be awarded later this month. Imidacloprid, used to kill lawn grubs and fleas, has been shown to reduce Asian longhorned beetle populations. The USDA treated 62,320 trees with imidacloprid in Central Massachusetts last year.
The licensed applicators will treat trees using hand-held application devices. The pesticide is injected directly into the trunk of the tree, allowing the imidacloprid to be dispersed through the tree’s vascular system. The insecticide reaches adult beetles feeding on small twigs and leaves, and larvae feeding just beneath the bark of treated trees. Program officials will be contacting property owners within the designated treatment areas to obtain a signed treatment release prior to the insecticide’s application. Control treatments are voluntary but considered a vital component of the beetle eradication effort, according to the USDA.
Federal and state officials have surveyed more than 860,000 trees and established a 94-square-mile quarantine map across the region since the beetle’s discovery in August 2008. To date, 18,834 infested trees have been removed, including 175 this year. Another 10,250 trees deemed susceptible to the beetle were removed in 2009.