The United States Department of Agriculture has declared August as “Tree Check Month” to inspect your trees for invasive beetles. So, just when you thought, “Summer is coming to an end, there couldn’t possibly be another bug threatening my trees”, we’ve got news for you! The Asian long-horned beetle is on the prowl and it’s expected to head our way. This beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) has the potential to destroy urban trees and forests! In fact, the USDA claims that “ALB has the potential to cause more damage than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, and gypsy moths combined”. The only thing we can do is exterminate any that we come across. Read on to learn about this killer pest and educate yourself about early identification!
About the Asian Long-horned Beetle
Currently, the invasive Asian long-horned beetle (abbreviated ALB) is infesting New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Massachusetts. The pest was first detected in New York in 1996 and has since been successfully eradicated in Illinois as well as some parts of New York and New Jersey. Cities that have a lot of import/export activity face a higher risk of infestation. ALB can travel in wood throughout all of their life stages.
Asian long-horned beetles are wood-boring insects. This means that from the time they are larvae to full-grown adult beetles they burrow holes through trees. As the beetle grows, the tunnels become larger and the damage becomes more significant.
What’s at Risk?
Since its arrival, the Asian long-horned beetle has caused immense damage primarily to city trees. Entire streets that were once lined with shade trees are barren now that the trees were all removed to control the ALB infestations. Due to the fact that there is no cure, economists fear that ALB may cause billions of dollars in damages – especially for the lumber industry. Asian long-horned beetles can infest a single tree for years, and adults often re-infest the tree they emerged from.
Trees most at risk, per the USDA:
- Maples, including boxelder, red, silver, and sugar maple
- Horse chestnut/buckeye
- Golden raintree
- London planetree/sycamore
- Mountain Ash
There are two ways to identify the ALB, by its appearance and by the visible damage it creates.
- Adult beetles have bullet-shaped bodies from 3/4 inch to 1-1/2 inches long
- They are shiny black with white spots on their wing covers/back.
- Some rare variations now have yellow spots, instead of white.
- ALB have extremely long black and white striped antennae, ranging from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 times the size of their body!
- Holes in your tree. When an adult beetle emerges from a tree, it creates a perfectly round hole. The holes are roughly the width of a pencil but can be larger.
- Yellowing or drooping leaves. The stress of an ALB infestation can cause early fall coloration in trees. Some trees may begin yellowing as early as August!
- Pits in the bark. Female ALB chew away at the outer surface of bark to create small pits to lay their eggs. Unlike the perfectly round exit holes, these pits are shallow and have ragged edges from the beetle’s mandibles. Unfortunately, females will dig a pit for every individual egg. Considering that one female can lay up to 90 eggs, that means 90 pits – from just one bug.
What You Can Do
Similar to the invasion of the Spotted Lanternfly, there is not much we can do at this time. The most important thing is to report any sightings and to kill any Asian long-horned beetles you come across. The beetle is not yet here, so in order to protect our trees and ecosystem, the best thing we can do is to be prepared! Since it is Tree Check Month, we encourage you to go out and look up at your tree canopy. If you see something unusual, call us!
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