What is it
The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) is a longhorned or sawyer beetle from central Asia that was accidently imported into the U.S. in wood-packing material used in shipping. The beetle was first discovered in Brooklyn, New York in 1996.
Since it was first identified, the ALB has spread throughout parts of New York State, Illinois, Massachusetts, and California. Because of the relatively small infestation area, it is believed that eradication efforts can be successful. Examples of successful eradication include the state of New Jersey, which was declared ALB-free in March of 2013, and Canada, which has been ALB-free since 2007.
How does it cause harm?
The ALB lays its eggs on the bark of hardwood trees. When the egg hatches, the larva burrows under the bark and begins to consume the xylem and phloem of the tree, causing the tree to eventually die of starvation. It usually takes two years for the larva to reach maturity inside the tree. Upon reaching maturity, the beetle will bore its way out of the tree and prepare to mate.
The damage caused by the ALB weakens the tree in such a way that it cannot be used for anything besides packing material. In China, the beetles destroyed approximately 50 million trees in three years, and it is theorized that the beetles could destroy one third of the trees in the U.S. if they were to spread across the country.
How do we stop it?
The public can avoid spreading the ALB by not moving firewood, nursery stock, lumber, and other wood materials across quarantine boundaries. If you live in a quarantined area and are planting trees, then it is recommended that you not plant host trees, especially maple, boxelder, poplar, elm, and other hardwoods. Inspect your trees often by searching for perfectly round exit holes, leaking sap, and excessive sawdust build up at the base of the tree. Allow officials access to trees for inspection and eradication, such as chemical treatment or removal of infested trees.