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U.S.D.A. Hunts For the Asian Longhorned Beetle On Avenue A

Tree Climber on Avenue ASuzanne Rozdeba Inspectors look for signs of the longhorned beetle.

Climbers from the federal Department of Agriculture were spotted today inspecting trees on Avenue A for signs of the dreaded Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive species that virtually guarantees the death of any tree it infests.

The Parks Department confirmed that the climbers were between Fourth and Fifth Streets at around 11:30 a.m. inspecting the trees for the circular, pencil-diameter holes that indicate the presence of the Chinese beetle that first appeared in the city — and in the U.S. — in 1996.

Since then, the beetle has been spotted in Central Park, Staten Island, parts of Brooklyn, and even as far away as Chicago. Typically, when a tree is found to be infested it is cut down, chopped up and burned. Trees in its immediate vicinity may also be felled in an attempt to quarantine the pest. Trees within a wider radius may be treated with an insecticide, as well. Read more…

Look Out When You Cook Out! Bugs and Band-Aids Found in Hot Dogs

Glassy hot dogsU.S. Department of Agriculture A package of hot dogs that contained glass shards, according to a federal food inspector.

If you’re stuck in town this Labor Day weekend without so much as a roof to grill on, wipe that hangdog look off your face: Maggots, worms, metal, plastic and even a razor were just a few of the objects that horrified callers said were in their hot dogs in complaints lodged with the U.S. Department of Agriculture between 2007 and 2009.

LaborDayDogs3Click To See Full Infographic

Back in 2009, this reporter filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the U.S.D.A. to give up its dirty-dog logs. The 64 case files finally came in this week, just in time for the holiday! Consider them food for thought if you’re planning to grill during these last dog days of summer.

The documents (viewable here) tell numerous cringe-inducing tales of foreign objects disrupting all-American meals. Band-Aids, a rubber glove, and even a lock washer (used to secure a bolt) are all described in snappy detail.

One report told of a “winged insect that resembled a dragonfly inside the package of hot dogs,” and noted that the insect’s “head, eyes, and wings are visible. Insect is black in color, over 1-inch long.” Read more…