Tree-killing beetle found in Boston

Authorities are warning Boston residents to be alert for a tree-killing beetle recently found in Jamaica Plain.

A single specimen of the emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle was found in a trap at the Arnold Arboretum on July 16, and was confirmed by federal officials on July 18. Suffolk County is the third county in the Commonwealth to have a confirmed detection of EAB.

No ash borers have been found in Mission Hill.

“We knew this was coming,” Arboretum spokesperson Jon Hetman told the Gazette late last month. “We expected that it would show up in the Boston area.”

According to a state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) release, the EAB is a small, metallic green beetle so small that seven of them could fit on the head of a penny. It is native to Asia.

Hetman said he did not yet know what the next steps to protect the Arboretum’s trees are, aside from a state-mandated quarantine that would prevent wood being moved around.

Arboretum Manager of Horticulture Andrew Gapinski told the Gazette that, “this is more of a slowly spreading movement.”

He said that the Arboretum was expecting EAB to show up in the Boston area and that management, not eradication, is the plan.

“If we caught one beetle, I imagine there are many more in Boston,” he said. “But the fact we caught just one speaks of our monitoring system.”

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the U.S. Forest Service will define a quarantine area and wood-movement ban similar to that used to control the recently eradicated Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).

Unlike many other invasive beetles, the ash borer kills ash trees quickly, within just three to five years, because it bores directly under the bark and disrupts the tree’s fluid-conducting system. Since its discovery in North America, it has killed millions of ash trees and has caused billions of dollars in treatment, removal and replacement costs to address the infested trees.

Signs of EAB damage include:

-Tiny, D-shaped exit holes in the bark of ash trees, dieback in the upper third of the tree canopy, and sprouting of branches just below this dead area.

-In the winter months, signs of EAB infestation left by woodpecker activity on ash trees. Fresh, light-colored wood pecks stand out against the darker bark of the tree. Severe woodpecker activity at the base of the canopy or on the main stems may indicate possible EAB infestation and should be reported to state forest health personnel immediately.

More information about EAB at

An emerald ash borer beetle. (Photo Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture)

An emerald ash borer beetle. (Photo Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture)

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