Lurking in the Trees
How one city took action to stop the Asian longhorned beetle.
What is the Asian longhorned beetle?
The Asian longhorned beetle is an invasive wood-boring insect native to China and Korea. It has infested and killed thousands of trees in New York City, northern New Jersey, Chicago, Massachusetts, Ohio and Toronto.
What kinds of trees does it kill?
The Asian longhorned beetle kills a wide variety of hardwood trees, especially maples, elms, willows, and birches. The beetle threatens to devastate forests covering approximately 48 million acres reaching from New England to beyond the Great Lakes. These forests protect public drinking water quality and many rare species and natural communities. At greatest risk are the sugar maples and red maples—the backbones of the maple syrup and fall foliage tourism industries.
What could the Asian longhorned beetle do to my community?
Devastate trees in rural, urban and suburban communities. Infested trees must be removed before they serve as breeding grounds for more beetles—at great expense to affected communities. A study by the USDA Forest Service determined that if the Asian longhorned beetle became established across the country, it would probably kill 30 percent of all urban trees — at a compensatory value of $669 billion.
The Asian longhorned beetle could also destroy the maple syrup industry. In 2011, maple syrup production was valued at $73.5 million in the United States—with major production happening in states from Maine to Wisconsin.
It could damage tourism. Tourism based on fall foliage displays is a vital economic activity across the East Coast and the Midwest; sugar and red maples are the dominant attraction. One million tourists intent on viewing autumn foliage annually generate $1 billion in revenue in New England alone.
What can I do to prevent the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle?
Don’t Move Firewood. The Asian longhorned beetle and other invasive pests can be transported to new places when people move firewood. When you go camping, buy or collect firewood close to where you’ll burn it.
Inspect Your Trees. Keep an eye on your backyard and street trees for signs of the Asian longhorned beetle, such as dime-sized holes in your trees or large shiny black beetles. If you think you may have an Asian longhorned beetle in your community, report it to the USDA and your local cooperative extension service agency.
How do I identify the Asian longhorned beetle?
The adult ALB is a distinctive-looking insect with the following unique characteristics:
- Shiny, jet black body with distinctive white spots
- Body is 1 to 1 ½ inches in length
- Long antennae with black and white stripes
- Six long legs
- May have metallic looking blue feet
- Learn more at www.beetlebusters.info
Damage from the Asian longhorned beetle might include:
- Dime-sized holes in trees from where beetles crawl out of the wood
- Shallow scraped pits in the wood from where the beetle lays eggs
- Oozing sap or small piles of sawdust at the base of infested trees and branches
- Learn more from the USDA