Cities under Seige: As Scientists Work to Eliminate Asian Longhorned Beetle in New York and Chicago, Trees Are Coming Down-And the Rest of the Country Is Getting Worried

By Woodsen, Mary M. | American Forests, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview

Cities under Seige: As Scientists Work to Eliminate Asian Longhorned Beetle in New York and Chicago, Trees Are Coming Down-And the Rest of the Country Is Getting Worried


Woodsen, Mary M., American Forests


We call it the Asian longhorned beetle. The Chinese call it the starry sky beetle. Forest entomologists call this inch-and-a-half-long insect with starburst spots on burnished black wings potentially the worst ecological disaster North American forests have ever seen. Because the pest enters the country through heavily populated port cities, urban and suburban forests are at risk, and New York and Chicago are already under assault.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It has been almost four years since the Asian longhorned beetle was first found in Brooklyn, New York City, and some suburbs; those areas have now lost 4,500 trees. In Chicago and outlying areas more than 1,320 trees have come down. And the beetles have been intercepted in 26 other cities. If they make it beyond those bounds, the result could decimate forests across the continent.

That's because unlike the most recent national pest threat--the gypsy moth--Asian longhorneds don't just weaken trees, they kill them. And the only way to control the pests is to take down infested trees.

AS AMERICAN FORESTS has shown in its regional ecosystem analyses, when cities lose a major portion of their tree canopy, they lose much more than cooling shade and aesthetic delight. Cities would be hard-pressed to provide an equivalent value in stormwater management, air quality, water quality, energy conservation, and wildlife habitat. In stormwater management alone, the nation's urban forests provide estimated services with a value of more than $400 billion each year.

AMERICAN FORESTS is raising money to provide tree-planting grants to organizations in the Chicago area. Individuals and corporations, including specialty retailer Eddie Bauer, are providing donations. To contribute, see "An Asian Longhorned Primer" on page 8.

Those new trees will be sorely needed as neighborhoods there and in New York struggle to overcome the damage the beetle has inflicted.

"When I first laid eyes on this beetle, I had the feeling it could be bad news," says Rick Hoebeke, the Cornell University entomologist who first identified the strange insect. "I checked it against our collection, and ... made plane reservations right away. Two days later I was at ground zero, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I was blown away. It was far worse than I had imagined."

The trunks on the sugar maples Hoebeke examined looked as if they had been used for target practice. A thick blanket of fine sawdust lay beneath each tree. The dime-sized holes were exit points for adult beetles that had probably spent a year or more tunneling through the tree as larvae.

Within two weeks teams headed by the USDA and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets were scouring Greenpoint; more damage was found in Amityville. Before long patterns emerged, with maples and horsechestnuts hard hit and London planes and lindens unaffected.

While the surveys continued in Brooklyn and Amityville, researchers at the USDA's Otis Plant Protection Center on Cape Cod got busy figuring out just how the beetles had arrived. They soon made a connection to China's huge and steadily increasing volume of exports to the United States--now valued at almost $80 billion dollars a year.

When the Chinese began planting vast acres of poplar trees to satisfy a demand for wooden packing crates (as well as fiber, fuel, and windbreaks) its population of starry sky beetles skyrocketed.

"Between 1977 and 1987 the beetle's population increased 500 times," says Vic Mastro, Otis' director. "Then it exploded. By 1991 populations were a whopping 6,500 times--that's roughly 650,000 percent--greater than before.

"We found that the Chinese were scrambling to figure out how deal with this pest, too." Mastro says. "It took us a long time just to figure out how to raise the beetle in the lab so we could experiment with it. In fact, for our first tests we had to use plastic fishing worms--they were about the size of the beetle larvae. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Cities under Seige: As Scientists Work to Eliminate Asian Longhorned Beetle in New York and Chicago, Trees Are Coming Down-And the Rest of the Country Is Getting Worried
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.