Defending Your Condo’s Landscape
In Worcester, Massachusetts, the north side of the city has been stripped of its shade trees, victims of a slow but persistent invader from China—the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). The value that mature hardwoods provide in dense residential areas is more fully appreciated now that they’re gone. “My mother’s house is now more expensive to heat in winter and keep cool in summer, since the trees in her neighborhood were removed. Those trees used to shield cold winds in winter, and gave protection from the sun’s heat all summer,” states Geoff Ford, vice president of the pest division at Ford Hometown Service in Worcester.
The Asian Longhorned Beetle
The ALB has been big news in southern New England; pockets of invasion have also cropped up in other states, and in New York City. Since experts believe the beetle traveled here in wooden packing crates or pallets, other importers—anywhere in the United States —may have infestations that have yet to be discovered.
The beetles, which have no known predators in this country, bore holes in the host tree, eventually killing it. Since 2008, $50 million in federal and state money has been spent on eradication, and 25,000 infested trees in greater Worcester have been cut down.
Ford reports that the ALB had been spreading within the city’s Greendale neighborhood—the epicenter of New England’s infestation—for many years. “My company has a bug club,” he explains, “with a collection of live and mounted specimens… and we do educational presentations for schools and groups. We had a beetle no one recognized that was captured locally in our collection that turned out to be the ALB… and that was 11 years before the ‘official’ discovery.
“The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has been involved locally,” says Ford, “and they have crews who are still working in this area, inspecting trees on a grid-by-grid basis.”
He describes other insect pests that are being seen with increasing frequency in the Northeast. “In the fall, you’ll get insects migrating indoors… looking to hibernate over the winter. One is the western conifer seed bug. They’ll seek warmth and get inside through the roof or trim line, around window and door frames. They wander around inside the walls or attic, in response to the weather or temperature, then they can get trapped inside [when spring comes]. People see them on walls or ceilings, and they’re just big and ugly, and if you squish them, they have a nasty odor, so sometimes they are called stinkbugs.”
The western conifer seed bug has been destructive to conifer forests in the northwest part of the country, where it originated and exists in greater volume. In New England, as an indoor pest, it’s more annoying than destructive. To eliminate them, experts recommend sealing or caulking up cracks and tiny spaces where they can enter. “The conifer seed bug has spread east, even to Europe… and they lay eggs on the needles of pines and spruce trees,” adds Ford.
He explains that his company does all kinds of pest control service, from wildlife removal to termites, bed bugs, and invaders of lawns and landscape foliage. “Even mosquitoes and ticks, we can eliminate these potentially disease-carrying pests from properties. We chemically treat the perimeter of properties, lawns and foliage for ticks. Even people who never walk in woods or fields get deer tick bites and Lyme disease. The ticks can be found walking on grass, and they’ll get on your shoe and make their way up and under your clothes.”
Marie Auger is a Massachusetts freelance writer and a frequent contributor to New England Condominium.