Prevention: The best defense is a good offense!
In addition to addressing known ALB infestations within the US, the US Dept. of Agriculture Animal Plant & Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA APHIS, PPQ) recognized that every effort must be made to prevent future infestations. It is believed that the most likely way that ALB can reach the US is in solid wood packing material that arrives from China in the form of dunnage or pallets that are used in freight shipments. Several actions have been taken by the USDA to prevent future ALB introductions.
1. Increased effort in port inspections
As a result of the ALB infestations, APHIS has increased the number of officers making inspections at key ports where ALB-infested cargo is likely to be shipped. They have increased the number and thoroughness of visual inspections on high-risk cargoes. In addition, some high-risk cargo that does not get inspected at the port may be inspected in-land at cargo distribution warehouses. APHIS has also issued pest alerts to all port-of-entry personnel, conducted outreach to local importers and targeted high-risk importers and Chinese exporters for outreach and inspection. APHIS periodically conducts blitzes at ports of entry, extensively inspecting targeted Chinese shipments of solid wood packing materials to detect ALB and other wood-boring pests.
2. Prohibit importation of infested wood
The Interim Rule enacted in 1998, required that all solid wood packing material from China be treated prior to shipping to the US. (see “What is being done to prevent new introductions') In 2000, compliance according to USDA officials was 98.4%. About 8,000 containers were inspected nationwide that year, and 53 of the total shipments inspected were sent back. One live ALB was found as well as several specimens of other exotic beetle species.
Read current research on how solid wood packing material is treated to exclude ALB from the U.S..
3. Quarantines within NY and Chicago
Human activity is one of the most common ways an exotic pest can spread. It is believed that the original infestation in Greenpoint, NY was spread inadvertently to locations on Long Island as a result of movement of infested wood by a tree care company. To reduce the risk of such accidental spread, state and federal quarantines areas have been established around all of the infested areas in New York and Chicago. According to the stipulations of these quarantines, the following protocols should be followed:
- Don’t cut down infested trees yourself–only ALB certified tree-service personnel can do it. You can get a list of them from your local ALB Hotline (see Contacts).
- Don’t use, dispose of or move any wood from the area without an inspection permit. State or federal personnel will inspect the wood at no cost. They will dispose of ALB infested wood for you.
The boundaries of these quarantines are enlarged as new infestations outside these boundaries are detected. Citizens living in or near an ALB quarantine zone should contact their local USDA agency to obtain information about the quarantines boundaries.
- Don’t plant trees that are ALB hosts. Call the ALB Hotline in your area for a list of approved species.
(In the New York City area call: 1-800-201-PARK. For other New York locations, call the NY hotline: 1-800-554-4501, ext. 72087.
In the Chicago area call: (312) 74-BEETLE. In all other Illinois locations call the Illinois hotline: 1-800-641-3934.)
Compliance with these quarantines is critical to prevent further spread of ALB. It is also the law.