Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica Ziehm

October 21, 2010

New York State Department of Agriculture And Markets Receives $1.2 Million To Combat Tree-Killing Beetle

USDA Funds Efforts for Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced that the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has received $1,168,350 from the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to further its efforts in eradicating Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).  This invasive insect has the potential to be one of the most destructive and costly invasive species to enter the United States.

                “If funding levels remain steady, we are projecting eradicating ALB from New York State in 2033,” the Commissioner said.  “While that may be a reality, we believe that date is too far out and presents too much risk to our forests and street trees.  This bug is a serious threat to sugar maples, our state tree.  Maples are the most abundant tree in New York’s forests, making this bug the single greatest threat to the health of our state’s woodlots, urban street trees and city parks.  We are committed to rid this pest from New York State as soon as possible, and, well before 2033.”

                For the Federal FY 2010, $33 million dollars was appropriated to USDA APHIS for eradication efforts in New York, New Jersey, and most recently Massachusetts, where the beetle was detected in August 2008.  The funding announced today is an increase to the cooperative agreement between USDA APHIS and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.  Last year, the State received $476,000 in Federal funds for ALB eradication efforts.  The increase in cooperative funding will allow New York State to increase its surveillance efforts, hire additional temporary seasonal technicians, and ultimately, accelerate the state and federal ALB eradication efforts.

                “USDA-APHIS, along with our key partners in New York, has worked hard to contain and eradicate the invasive Asian longhorned beetle,” said Christine Markham, national program director for the APHIS ALB eradication program.  “With this funding, we are reinforcing our shared goal of stopping this destructive insect and protecting valued resources.  We appreciate everyone’s support of this process.”

"The Asian longhorned beetle is the most serious insect threat New York City has ever faced -- one that if left unchecked could kill half of our urban forest," said New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.  "The beetle lays eggs on, bores into, feeds on and ultimately kills otherwise healthy hardwood trees.  We are grateful the USDA has provided New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets with additional funding to improve public awareness and bolster eradication efforts.  We look forward to collaborating with USDA and NYSDAM to keep our trees healthy so they can continue to work hard for New Yorkers by cleaning the air we breathe, lowering summer air temperatures and beautifying our neighborhoods."

ALB was first discovered in the United States in Brooklyn, New York, in August 1996. Eradication efforts include establishing quarantines, conducting visual inspections, the removal of infested and high-risk exposed trees, as well as treatment of host trees. USDA and its partners are currently eradicating ALB infestations in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.  USDA declared eradication of two ALB infestations in Chicago, Ill., and Hudson County N.J., in 2008.

Surveillance efforts continue to be conducted through ground and aerial surveys.  To date, 8,142 trees have been removed in New York due to the ALB.  This past April, an infested tree was detected and removed by program staff in the core infested area of Brooklyn.

ALB has the potential to be one of the most destructive and costly invasive species to enter the United States.  The insect threatens urban and suburban shade trees, as well as recreational and forest resources valued at hundreds of billions of dollars.  ALB has the potential to negatively impact such industries as maple syrup production, hardwood lumber processing, nurseries and tourism.  

Troy Weldy, acting North American Director of Forest Health for The Nature Conservancy and Director of Ecological Management for TNC-NY notes, “ALB has the potential to eliminate sugar maples and other forest species from New York’s forests, thereby ending syrup production, impacting timber production, reducing the scenic splendor of our fall foliage.  USDA and NYS Ag & Markets are to be commended for focusing their efforts on a pest we hope we can eradicate before broad impacts are visible.”

David Campbell, President of the NYS Maple Producers Association said, “Maple producers are happy to see additional funds provided to New York State in support of ALB eradication.  Sugar makers across NYS are rightfully concerned about an ALB infestation. It would devastate our industry.”  In 2009, NY’s maple producers made over 400,000 gallons of syrup – the largest crop on record. NYS is the nation’s second largest producer of pure maple syrup.

Eric Carlson, Executive Director of the Empire State Forest Products Association, noted that “Loggers, forest owners and the forest products industry have a vested interest in the health of New York’s forests.  Without forests, there would be no forest industry.  We are very glad to see the efforts being made by NYS Department of Ag and Markets and USDA APHIS to address this threat to our forests.”

                Citizens can help by reporting sightings of the beetle and any signs of infestation.  The Asian longhorned beetle is a large beetle, with its body measuring approximately 1- to 1-1/2 inches long.  It is a shiny black beetle appearing with random white spots.  Its antennae, which are longer than the insect’s body, are banded black and white, and it has six legs.  Its feet are black and sometimes appear with a bluish tint.  Adult beetles typically first appear during the month of July, but continue to be present throughout the summer and into the early fall months. ALB can be found anywhere, including on trees, benches, cars, patios and outdoor furniture, sides of houses and sidewalks, etc.  If you find an ALB, place the insect in a jar and freeze it; this will preserve the insect for identification.  Early detection of ALB infestations is important because it can limit an infested area and the number of trees destroyed.

To report signs or symptoms of ALB, or for answers about program activities, please call the New York ALB cooperative eradication program toll-free at (866) 265-0301 or 1-877-STOP-ALB.  ALB sightings in New York can also be reported via the Internet at

2010 Press Releases