British Columbia

Experts arrive to investigate tree-eating beetle

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A international team of arborists arrived in Toronto Thursday to strategize on how to control a species of beetle that is threatening local trees.

The 11 tree experts will investigate how the Asian Longhorn Beetle arrived in Etobicoke and how to rein in its destructive nature.

The burrowing black insect can destroy large leafy trees, such as maples or elms, within two years.

It was first spotted in pockets of northwest Toronto and Vaughan in mid-September.

Since then the City of Toronto and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have been mapping how far the infestation has spread.

Hundreds of healthy trees in and around the infected ones will have to be cut down to control the insect's advance.

Kyle Norton, an arborist with the City of Toronto, said similar tactics have been used to successfully curb the Asian Longhorn Beetle's spread in New York City and Chicago.

Norton said all trees within 300 metres of where the beetles are found must be removed.

"It's like gangrene," he said. "Unless you cut it off and cut it off harshly, it's going to infect the rest of the urban forest."

So far only a few infected branches have been cut down, and officials said the actual tree cutting won't start until the weather gets colder and the beetle is made less mobile.