• Switzerland's news in English

Swiss wage war on Asian long-horned beetle

Malcolm Curtis · 13 Jun 2013, 11:10

Published: 13 Jun 2013 11:10 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The presence of the Asian long-horned beetle was first recorded in the canton of Fribourg in 2011.

Since then the insect has spread to six other cantons — Basel-City, Basel-Country, Thurgau, Zurich and Lucerne, with the largest concentration found in Winterthur, the federal office of the environment (BAFU) says.

The beetles arrive from Asia in wood crates and other packaging, which has led Swiss customs officials to redouble inspections of shipments using such materials.

Even if the total number of beetles counted last year  — 155 — seems small, the Swiss federal government is taking the threat seriously.

The insects pose a concern because it is very difficult to kill off the larvae, which bore into tree trunks and branches, weakening their structure and encouraging fungal growth.

The beetle and other non-native wood-boring pests cause an estimated $3.5 billion in annual damages in the United States, where the Asian insect first surfaced in the 1990s, according to reports.

Given the potential risk, federal authorities in Switzerland are taking no chances.

During a visit to Beijing last month, Swiss Environment MInister Doris Leuthard signed a cooperation agreement with the Chinese minister of the environment to tackle the issue.

Scientists from the Swiss federal institute for forest, snow and landscape research also visited China to find out more about the pest, Tages Anzeiger reported on Wednesday.

“We want to prevent long-horned beetles from continuing to expand in Switzerland,” Josef Hess, deputy director of BAFU is quoted as saying.

Last year, authorities burned 130 infested trees in Winterthur, apparently the only foolproof way of exterminating the insects.

At Swiss customs check points, all goods packed in wood that do not come from the European Union must be declared.

Experts can subject such packaging to extreme heat — if there are any beetles in the packaging they will die if exposed to heat of more than 56 degrees Celsius, Tages Anzeiger said.

But the best way is to ensure that the wood boxes and cartons are treated before they leave China, which is what Chinese authorities have pledged to do, the newspaper said.

Switzerland is also working with other Asian countries to address the same issue.

Meanwhile, dogs trained to detect the beetles are being used by Swiss customs officials at the port of Basel on the Rhine River and at Winterthur.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available