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Little Beetle, Big Threat

The Asian Long-horned beetle has an appetite for big trees. And unfortunately, the most effective response to a sighting of the beetle is to cut the tree down, chop it and burn it before the beetles spread. CBS News' Jeffrey Kofman reports.

The Asian Long-horned beetle was first spotted in America three years ago when it hitched a ride on wood imported from China.

You may remember the gypsy moth or even Dutch elm disease. This has the potential to be much worse.

The Asian Long-horned beetle knows no predators, fears no pesticide.

In Chicago this week, Department Of Agriculture's bug detectives went on alert when beetles were spotted in three trees. Within a matter of minutes they had cut down and burned the bug-ridden trees. The blight is worrisome because this is a few miles from the Ravenswood neighborhood where the beetles surfaced last year. Ravenswood lost almost 900 trees.

"It happened in New York. And it happened to us here," said Joe Schafer, of the Department of Agriculture.

It was in New York that they first surfaced in 1996. Since then, they've leapfrogged from neighborhood to neighborhood. The city has spent millions and destroyed thousands of trees.

"The cost would be far greater if we didn't take this action," explains Henry Stern, New York City Parks Commissioner. "The entire maple forests of the northeastern United States could be wiped out."

The scale of this plague is now far too big for government inspectors to handle on their own. The only hope is public vigilance. And the only way to replace what is lost is to plant beetle-resistant trees and wait a few decades for them to grow.