The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Asian Long-Horned Beetle Project reports no new sightings in the borough for the past five years and may recommend next year that the Eastern Queens quarantine be lifted.
That’s the latest word from Joe Gittleman, project manager with the program, during a phone interview from his Long Island office.
First discovered in Brooklyn in 1996, the insect pests spread throughout Queens, beginning in Maspeth in 2003. The beetles destroy trees and the federal government fears they will get upstate and damage New York’s hardwood and maple syrup industries.
The beetles are believed to have come here from Asia in wooden packing crates that were used to ship goods from China. The containers have since been banned.
Gittleman estimates about 16,000 trees have been destroyed in the city due to the beetles.
To help prevent the spread of the bugs, the USDA uses tree climbers to locate holes left by the beetles. Inspections are also made from the ground across the borough’s quarantine area. The inspectors are now concentrating their efforts in communities east of the Van Wyck Expressway.
That will be followed by inspections in Western Queens.