WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is declaring August as “Tree Check Month” for the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). USDA and its partners are asking residents to check their trees for this invasive insect and the damage it causes. August is the most important time of year to look for the beetle because it is when people are most likely to see adult beetles.
“Checking trees for the pest and the damage it causes is how you can help us eliminate the beetle from the United States, and protect more trees,” said Josie Ryan, APHIS’ National Operations Manager for the ALB Eradication Program. “The sooner we know where the insect is, the sooner we can stop its spread.”
USDA and its partners are working to eradicate the tree-killing beetle in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and South Carolina. ALB was found most recently in South Carolina, when a homeowner reported finding a beetle in their backyard in 2020, leading USDA and Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry to discover an active infestation. Since all states have trees that ALBs attack, unknown infestations could exist elsewhere in the U.S.
The ALB is an invasive wood-boring beetle that attacks 12 types of hardwood trees in North America, such as maples, elms, buckeyes, birches, and willows. Infested trees do not recover and eventually die. Infested trees also become safety hazards since branches can drop and trees can fall over, especially during storms. In its larval stage, the insect feeds inside tree trunks and branches, creating tunnels as it feeds, then adults chew their way out in the warmer months, leaving about 3/4-inch round exit holes.
The adult beetle has distinctive markings that are easy to recognize:
- A shiny black body with white spots that is about 1” to 1-1/2” long.
- Black and white antennae that are longer than the insect’s body.
- Six legs and feet that can appear bluish in color.
Signs that a tree might be infested include:
- Round exit holes in tree trunks and branches about the size of a dime or smaller.
- Egg sites that are shallow, oval or round wounds in the bark where sap might weep.
- Sawdust-like material called frass found on the ground around the tree or on the branches.
- Branches or limbs falling from an otherwise healthy-looking tree.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
The public has a vital role in helping to stop the spread of the ALB and eliminating it from infested areas.
Report it: If you think you found a beetle or tree damage, report it by calling the ALB hotline at 1-866-702-9938 or submitting an online report at www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com. Try to photograph the ALB or tree damage. If you can, capture the beetle in a durable container and freeze it, which helps preserve the insect for identification. Then report it.
Reduce spread: If you live in an ALB quarantine area, please keep the tree-killing pest from spreading. Follow state and federal laws, which restrict the movement of woody material and untreated firewood that could be infested.
It is possible to eradicate ALB. USDA and its partners eradicated the insect from Illinois, Boston in Massachusetts, New Jersey and portions of New York and Ohio.
For more information about the ALB and the eradication efforts, visit www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com. For local inquiries or to speak to your USDA State Plant Health Director, call 1-866-702-9938.