THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Trees may get antibeetle injections

About 45,000 trees have been surveyed in Jamaica Plain, but no further infestation of Asian longhorned beetles was found. About 45,000 trees have been surveyed in Jamaica Plain, but no further infestation of Asian longhorned beetles was found. (David L. Ryan/ Globe Staff)
By Carolyn Y. Johnson
Globe Staff / March 31, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

The US Department of Agriculture is seeking public comments on a proposed plan to inject a pesticide into trees in Boston that are vulnerable to the invasive Asian longhorned beetle.

The precise plan is still to be worked out, but spokeswoman Rhonda Santos said treatment would probably start in June in an area a quarter-mile from six infested trees that were discovered last summer in Jamaica Plain.

So far, the state has surveyed 45,000 of the vulnerable trees in the area, with no signs of the beetle, Santos said.

The preferred plan calls for potential host trees or the soil at the base of the trees to be injected with imidacloprid, a pesticide used to treat at-risk trees to prevent infestation. If a tree is already infested, it must be cut down and chipped.

Use of the pesticide has raised concerns elsewhere, because it is known to be toxic to bees. Because the chemical is distributed mainly to leaves and twigs, with small amounts ending up in pollen or flowers, it should not harm bees, federal authorities say. In Worcester, where officials have been working to eradicate the beetle since it was discovered in 2008, experimental hives were left in the treated area and compared with those outside the area. So far, the treatment has had no impact on bees, Santos said.

The environmental assessment is at www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/ea/alb.shtml. Comments may be sent by e-mail to Theresa.Rice@aphis.usda.gov by May 7.