The long-term toll exacted by the Asian Longhorned Beetle on Flushing Meadows Corona Park has yet to be measured, but the city Parks Department said Friday that 19 trees so far have fallen victim to ecologically devastating insect.
Of the 19 trees found to be infected with the Asian Longhorned Beetle - which burrows in and out of a tree, leaving behind bullet- sized holes throughout that kill the tree - a more than 60-year-old, 45-foot elm planted during the 1939 World's Fair was cut down Friday, the agency said. A survey identifying more beetle-infected trees in the park has yet to be completed, a Parks spokeswoman said.
In July the Parks Department announced the park, stretching over more than 1,200 acres, had been infected with the Asian Longhorned Beetle, which has killed more than 2,800 trees in the city alone.
A full survey to determine the extent of the infestation in Flushing Meadows, the city's second-largest park, began on July 26 and does not have a scheduled ending date, the Parks spokeswoman said Monday.
The Asian beetle was found last summer in areas around Flushing Meadows but not in trees inside the park.
Native to China, the Asian Longhorned Beetle was first discovered in separate infestations in Sunnyside and Ridgewood in 1997, Bayside in February 1999 and Flushing in August 1999.
Asian Longhorned Beetles infect trees by burrowing into the trunks, laying eggs and tunneling back out, leaving holes that prevent the trees from photosynthesizing and eventually killing the plants.
The only way to keep the beetles, which fly or get blown from tree to tree, from spreading is to chop the tree down and remove its trunk. Tree remains are then chipped twice and burned.
So far most of the infected trees in Flushing Meadows Corona Park have been elms, the spokeswoman said, and a few maples. The World's Fair tree was the only one removed so far, but the spokeswoman said more infected trees would be cut down in the next several weeks.
The city has lost about 2,800 trees throughout Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan because of the beetles. The Parks Department said 232 trees have been cut down in Bayside and Flushing, and 1,835 trees were cut down in the area between Greenpoint, Brooklyn and western Queens in the last several years.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.