2:56 PM, Jun. 21, 2011
Barrett J. Brunsman
TATE TWP. – The danger posed by the Asian long-horned beetle is so great that the federal government will pay to cut down and destroy infested trees in Greater Cincinnati, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
It's unclear how widespread the problem is or how much eradication might cost, said Sharon Lucik, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service.
Residents of Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana should be on the lookout for the beetle, which can kill many kinds of trees, Lucik said. Clermont County is the only place an infestation has been spotted in the region.
Certified arborists and landscape managers, including golf course and park superintendents, have been invited to a Thursday meeting at the Clermont County Fairgrounds in Owensville, said Joe Boggs, assistant professor with Ohio State University Extension and the OSU Department of Entomology.
"It would be analogous to providing diagnostic training for doctors in the case of a localized outbreak of a new disease," Boggs said.
Meetings for the general public will be scheduled later, Boggs said. The meeting for green-industry professionals will include discussion of how to identify infestations.
"Are they seeing holes about the size of dime?" Lucik said. "That would be the exit hole of an Asian long-horned beetle."
Females chew oval-shaped holes in the bark of trees and lay eggs. When they hatch, larvae bore into the wood. Their tunnels sever the cambium of the trunk, which disrupts the flow of water and nutrients and kills a tree within three years.
Lucik urged people to visit a U.S. Department of Agriculture website – Beetlebusters.info – to learn more about the bug, including what it looks like.
Adults are shiny black with white spots and 1 to 1½ inches long. Curved antennae with black-and-white stripes can be even longer.
If you capture a bug that might be an Asian long-horned beetle, "put it in a container and put it in the freezer," Lucik said. "We would certainly want to get our hands on that specimen."
Trees that prove to have infestations will be felled and destroyed, Lucik said. Private tree contractors have been used elsewhere in the past.
Trees that don't show symptoms of infestation can be treated with Imidacloprid, a systemic pesticide injected into the trunk or surrounding soil, Lucik said.
The bug was found locally in three maple trees June 9 by the owner of a Clermont County farm, but it wasn't confirmed as the Asian long-horned beetle until Friday.
It was the first time an infestation was found in Ohio trees.
Bill Skvarla, owner and winemaker at Harmony Hill Vineyards and Estate Winery, said he was told by inspectors that the bugs might have begun attacking trees on his 70-acre farm three years ago. His grapevines show no damage, and the winery remains open.
If not controlled, the beetle could cause billions of dollars in damage throughout the state, said Andy Ware, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. To report signs of infestation, call a toll-free hot line: 855-252-6450.
"We don't want anybody to withhold reporting an infested tree out of concern they're going to have to pay $800 or $1,000 for the removal," Ware said. "If (federal inspectors) say a tree needs to come down as part of this effort … there's no cost to the landowner."
Tate Township was ordered quarantined Monday by Gov. John R. Kasich, and it's illegal to move any logs, firewood, stumps, roots or branches out of the township.
The same restrictions apply to all of East Fork State Park, Ware said. The park includes portions of Batavia Township and Williamsburg Township.
The beetle can fly, but it's feared that the infestation could spread quickly by people transporting firewood.
Anyone found guilty of violating the quarantine could face up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500, Ware said. Repeat offenses could result in criminal charges leading to up to 90 days jail and a fine of up to $750.
The governor also restricted the sale of nursery stock, green lumber and logs of the following trees: maple, horse chestnut, buckeye, mimosa, birch, hackberry, ash, golden rain tree, katsura, sycamore, poplar, willow, mountain ash and elm.
Native to China, Japan and Korea, the bug was first discovered in the United States in 1996.
"We strongly believe this bug can be eradicated from Ohio because the USDA has been successful in stopping it elsewhere," Ware said. "It's being controlled in Massachusetts and New Jersey and New York. It's been successfully eradicated in Chicago."