WASHINGTON — August is the height of summer, and it is also the best time to spot the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) as it starts to emerge from trees. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is asking the public to take five minutes to step outside and report any signs of this invasive pest. Checking trees for the beetle will help residents protect their own trees and better direct USDA’s efforts to eradicate this beetle from the United States.
“It’s important to look for signs of the beetle now, because it’s slow to spread during the early stages of an infestation,” said Josie Ryan, APHIS’ National Operations Manager for the ALB Eradication Program. “With the public’s help, we can target new areas where it has spread and provide a better chance of quickly containing it.”
The Asian longhorned beetle feeds on a wide variety of popular hardwood trees, including maple, birch, elm, willow, ash and poplar. It has already led to the loss of more than 180,000 trees. Active infestations are being fought in three areas of the country: Worcester County, MA, Long Island, NY (Nassau and Suffolk Counties), and Clermont County, Ohio.
“Homeowners need to know that infested trees do not recover and will eventually die, becoming safety hazards,” warned Ryan. “USDA removes infested trees as soon as possible because they can drop branches and even fall, especially during storms, and this keeps the pest from spreading to nearby healthy trees.”
The Asian longhorned beetle has distinctive markings that are easy to recognize:
- Antennae that are longer than the insect’s body with black and white bands.
- A shiny, jet-black body with white spots, about 1” to 1 ½” long.
- Six legs and feet, possibly bluish-colored.
Signs of infestation include:
- Round exit holes in tree trunks and branches about the size of a dime or smaller.
- Shallow oval or round scars in the bark where the adult beetle chewed an egg site.
- Sawdust-like material called frass, laying on the ground around the tree or in the branches.
- Dead branches or limbs falling from an otherwise healthy-looking tree.
After seeing signs of the beetle:
- Make note of what was found and where. Take a photo, if possible.
- Try to capture the insect, place in a container, and freeze it. This will preserve it for easier identification.
- Report findings by calling 1-866-702-9938 or completing an online form at www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com.
It is possible to eliminate this pest and USDA has been successfully doing so in several areas. Most recently, the agency declared Stonelick and Batavia Townships in Ohio to be free of the Asian longhorned beetle. We also eradicated the beetle from Illinois, New Jersey, Boston, MA, and parts of New York. The New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens are in the final stages of eradication.
For more information about the Asian longhorned beetle, other ways to keep it from spreading—such as not moving firewood—and eradication program activities, visit www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com. For local inquiries or to speak to your State Plant Health Director, call 1-866-702-9938.
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