Asian Longhorned Beetle
Summary: The Asian Longhorned Beetle was accidently imported into the United States in the 1980's. Since that time it has established itself as a prime destroyer of many of our valuable hardwood trees.
The Asian Longhorned Beetle has gained a strong foothold during its short tenure here in the United States. The beetle's US introduction has been traced back to the 1980s where it was brought in on wooden packing materials arriving in New York City. Specifically, the first report was from a warehouse in Brooklyn in a shipment of plumbing supplies from China.
Since that time the Asian Longhorned Beetle has become enemy number one for our hardwood trees.
The beetle attacks many varieties including its favorite red maple, but will also bore into poplar, willow, horse chestnut and black locust. The beetle attacks healthy and stressed trees alike and does not differentiate due to age, although it seems to prefer trees that are larger than four inches in diameter.
The adult Asian Longhorned Beetle feeds for a few days then mates. Once they mate the female starts to chew pits in the bark where she lays her eggs. Upon hatching, large worm-like larvae bore into the bark, feed voraciously on the wood, grow larger, then continue to bore and feed until they reach the heartwood of the tree. Eventually, they emerge as adult beetles during the months of May, June and July appearing as one inch long shiny, black beetles with white spots. Each insect has a pair of curved, black and white striped antennae that are longer than the body. The beetles leave the tree riddled with holes dripping with sap. The many tunnels disrupt the flow of water and other nutrients killing the tree.
Tracking the movement of the Asian Longhorned Beetle is difficult. There are no methods for trapping the insect, so detection largely depends upon visual examination of trees. A tree is checked for live insects or the telltale signs of small slits caused by the female beetle during her egg laying process. Work is being done to develop methods to detect the chewing sounds made by the beetle in order to determine its presence before serious damage occurs to the tree in question.
The Asian Longhorned Beetle has few natural predators and there are no chemical or biological defenses developed to fight this tree killing menace. For now, affected trees are cut down and the infested wood is destroyed.