One can hear plenty of trees falling in the forest in Staten Island these days, as the Parks Dept. is on a massive tree-killing spree after the notice of a few dozen Asian longhorned beetles. The insect is a scourge and first appeared in Greenpoint, Brooklyn about a decade ago, after possibly being imported in a wooden packing crate from China. The female of the species lays its eggs in a tree and the larva burrow their way towards the center of the plant. Once grown, the beetle chews its way out, leaving a large hole that can be lethal to trees when repeated enough times.
The potential of the Asian longhorned beetle to decimate forestation, especially valuable urban forestation, means that when the species is spotted, every tree within a half mile that could possibly feed the bug must be cut down. The New York Times reports that is what is happening on Staten Island right now:
Ten thousand, eight hundred and seventy-four trees on Staten Island and Prall’s Island, an uninhabited sliver of dredge leavings in the Arthur Kill, will be cut down by the end of the month. An additional 13,000 are being injected with pesticide.
All because of a few dozen beetles, which turned up on Staten Island for the first time in March.
Inspectors from United States Department of Agriculture found the beetle or its chubby white larva in 41 trees on Prall’s Island. Three other infested trees were found on Staten Island, in a desolate square mile of former oil-refinery land where a Nascar track was recently proposed and rejected.
The Staten Island infestation is likely from beetles who flew across the Arthur Kill to a smaller island, and then on to Richmond County. More than 20,000 trees were cut down in New Jersey to stem the beetle's spread between 2002 and 2006, but apparently the efforts were insufficient.
From the Parks Dept. web site: "If you see this beetle or signs of beetle damage call New York City Parks & Recreation at 1-800-201-PARK or the United States Department of Agriculture at 1-866-265-0301."