Ironically, if no new beetles are found, officials will never know whether the aggressive control efforts or simply luck was responsible. "The only way we will ever be proven right is when we find out that we didn¿t do enough," says entomologist Phillips wryly. State entomologists will continue to survey the quarantined area yearly for citrus longhorned beetles for five more years, until 2007, before declaring success.
Officials hope to block future introductions. On August 16, 2002, new federal regulations were introduced that require imported bonsai trees to be quarantined in the country of origin in a fully enclosed greenhouse or screen house for two years prior to shipment to the U.S.
Ultimately, John Muth lost more than $100,000 in trees and retail business. But he is at peace with his decision. "I am very glad they cut," he says. Entomologists, for their part, are grateful. "He did what I would pray every good citizen would do," says Phillips.
James A. Grob is a biologist and freelance science writer based in the Seattle area.