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Beating the beetles

On a gorgeous Monday morning at the Arnold Arboretum, city, state, and federal authorities, as well as members of the Arboretum staff and officials from surrounding communities, gathered to mark the evident eradication of the Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive insect that since 2008 has devastated the Worcester area (some 34,000 trees had to be destroyed there), and threatened to do the same in Greater Boston.

The large, six-legged, black insect with white spots burrows through its victims from the inside, leaving behind big exit holes and dead trees. When the beetle was discovered across the street from the Arboretum in 2010, infesting six trees on the grounds of the Faulkner Hospital, it was feared that it would wreak havoc on the Arboretum's priceless collection of 15,000 woody plants.

As part of a coordinated response that included the Arboretum and government authorities, a 10-mile quarantine zone was set up around the infestation area. Intensive, coordinated efforts ensued to identify, contain, and eradicate the beetle. The quarantine was officially lifted at Monday's ceremony.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014