BOSTON (CBS) – There was no farewell tour but the breakup of this group of beetles was big news for Hub tree lovers.

Officials Monday announced the eradication of the Asian longhorned beetle in Boston.

The voracious bugs that feast on trees were originally discovered in the United States in 1996 in New York and in 2009 the first infestation of the beetles in Massachusetts was found by a Worcester homeowner.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports

Four years ago, they were detected in trees at Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain, just across the street from Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum – a virtual food court for the hungry insects.

Arboretum Director Ned Friedman said the effect on trees at the Arboretum would have been “devastating” if the beetles had not been detected at the Faulkner and were able to cross the street to the Arboretum.

The Arboretum has 15,000 trees and the world’s most important and diverse collection of maple trees from around the world. It just so happens maples are the Asian beetles’ favorite food.

These traps were hung in 2011 to catch Asian Longhorned beetles. (WBZ-TV Photo)

These traps were hung in 2011 to catch Asian Longhorned beetles. (WBZ-TV Photo)

Shortly after the Asian longhorned beetles were discovered at the Faulkner, a 10-square-mile area in Suffolk and Norfolk counties was set up to stop the spread of the invasive species.

Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan credited a collaborative effort by federal, state and local agencies with eliminating the threat from the beetles.

While the curtain has closed on the beetles’ Boston show, they are still on tour in Central Massachusetts where an Asian longhorned beetle quarantine remains in effect. A 110-square-mile quarantine zone includes Worcester, West Boylston, Boylston, Shrewsbury and portions of Holden and Auburn.

Progress in the battle with the beetles has not come cheaply. Since 2008, the federal government has committed more than $117 million to fighting their spread in Massachusetts.



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