Chinese wood-eating beetles invade Rhineland

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21 Sep, 2012 Updated Fri 21 Sep 2012 10:20 CEST
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A Chinese wood-eating beetle has invaded western Germany, wildlife experts said on Thursday. They fear the insect's ferocious appetite could force authorities to chop down 300 trees in the city of Bonn.

The Asian long-horned beetle is proving to be a nuisance to the leafy Bonn ecosystem, as the black and white bug has been chewing up sycamore trees and damaging them to such an extent that they are having to be cut down, Die Welt daily reported on Thursday.

The North Rhine-Westphalian city has been increasingly plagued by the insect, which is the length of a little finger, over the past few years. First discovered in 2005 outside a factory near Bonn that regularly imported natural stone from China, experts believe that the bugs hitched a ride in wooden boxes.

Now a team from the NRW Chamber of Agriculture has declared war on the beetle, putting a 200-metre quarantine around any sycamore tree found with traces of the insect – as, he explained, that is the furthest they can fly.

But due to the sheer number of trees found covered in a labyrinth of tiny, circular bore-holes, where beetles have eaten their way into the trunk, the entire quarantine area equates to around the size of 3,000 football pitches.

The team called in tree surgeons to fell and burn around 300 sycamore trees within the 200 metre radius where the insect was found. One kindergarten which was surrounded entirely by the trees now has none, said team leader Gerhard Renker.

For the rest of the trees in the larger quarantine area, two members of the Chamber of Agriculture have their work cut out – they will be checking every single one between five and 10 times a year.

“It's a huge operation, what we're doing here,” Renker told Die Welt. But neither him nor the tree surgeons called in to do the dirty work could say what the final outcome for Bonn's green streets would be.

The Local/jcw



2012/09/21 10:20

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