Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Thursday, March 8, 2001

Release # 070-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel/Lynn Rasic (212) 788-2958
Read the Mayor's Weekly Column
Jane Rudolph (PARKS) (212) 360-1311


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today joined Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern to announce a new treatment to combat the Asian longhorned beetle. The Mayor and Commissioner Stern joined officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in a demonstration of the injection treatments that will take place from April through June within established quarantined areas of New York City.

"Since the Asian longhorned beetle was first discovered in the U.S. in August 1996 right here in New York City, 5,000 trees in the metropolitan area have been removed to prevent further infestation," Mayor Giuliani said. "A staggering 47% of all trees in New York City are in danger of being infected by the Asian longhorned beetle. This new treatment will reduce the beetle population and, most importantly, help to save trees."

"As stewards of our urban forest, we embrace this new technology as a defense against the destructive beetle," Commissioner Stern said. "We are pleased that the USDA has identified a substance that is effective against the beetle when it is injected into healthy trees. While survey and tree removal are still the primary efforts of the Asian longhorned beetle control program, this treatment is a promising weapon in our war against the beetle."

"The use of insecticide is currently the only known way to eradicate the Asian longhorned beetle," said Richard L. Dunkle, Deputy Administrator for Plant Protection and Quarantine with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). "We are constantly researching tools and methods that may be helpful in our battle against this tree-killing pest."

Imidacloprid is the substance that will be used for treating the non-infested endangered trees within these areas. It is injected into the tree base and is dispersed throughout the tree by its own circulatory system. This process enables the insecticide to reach Asian longhorned beetle adults and larvae when they infest the trees and feed on small twigs and beneath the bark of host trees.

Imidacloprid is currently used in store-bought lawn and garden products to kill lawn grubs and in some domestic pet flea powders. Last April the substance was used in Chicago on more than 8,000 trees.

The Asian longhorned beetle, native to China, bores into healthy hardwood trees and feeds on living tree tissue during the larval stage. Later, throughout the summer, adult beetles emerge from exit holes and briefly feed on the small twigs of the host trees. To fight this destructive pest, City and State officials have removed and destroyed more than 5,000 trees in and around New York City and more than 1,400 trees in the Chicago area. Tree destruction has been the only method for controlling this beetle since its initial U.S. discovery in New York in 1996 and in Illinois in 1998. APHIS officials are optimistic that using imidacloprid will decrease beetle populations and future tree loss but advise that, if a tree is found to be infested, it will be removed regardless of treatment. The goal is to eradicate this highly destructive insect from New York and Illinois before it can establish itself elsewhere. APHIS and the State will survey all trees throughout the City's quarantined areas as they continue their search for infested trees.

At the press conference, the Mayor and Commissioner Stern were joined by USDA officials Vic Mastro, Michael Stefan, Joseph Gittleman, and Ronald Berger, and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets officials Ed Biel, Robert Mungari, Rick Arnold, and Susan Dirks, as well as NYC Parks Department Chief of Forestry Fiona Watt.

The adult Asian longhorned beetle is a shiny, bullet-shaped beetle, an inch in size, with black and white spots, and a long antennae that span its body length.

For more information, visit the Parks Department website at or the APHIS website at and click on Asian longhorned beetle under "Hot Issues." To report a sighting of the Asian longhorned beetle, please contact the USDA by calling (631) 598-5943 in New York or toll-free 1-866-265-0301.

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