The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) is an invasive species that kills deciduous trees. Harmless to humans and pets, the large, bullet-shaped beetle can be spotted by its shiny black body with white spots. It ranges from about 1 to 1.5 inches long and has exceptionally long antennae that are banded with black and white. The elongated feet are black with a whitish-blue upper surface. Checking your trees monthly for the beetle itself and the signs of its presence can ultimately help prevent the spread of the beetle.
Once a tree is infected, there is no cure. Simply because the beetle is so destructive, it literally kills a tree from the inside out. Think of the Asian Longhorned Beetle like you would a parasite; the larvae burrow deep holes within the tree’s trunk so it can feed on the tree’s nutrients and use its water supply. This eventually cuts off the tree’s lifeline to the water and nutrients that it needs to survive, causing it to slowly wither and die.
No one knows for sure how the ALB got to North America from Asia. However, it’s likely that the beetle traveled concealed in solid wood packaging material that was shipped from overseas. Since this discovery, APHIS published an interim rule in 1998, requiring all solid wood packaging material from China be completely free of bark and live plant pests and also be treated with either preservatives, heat or fumigation prior to arrival in the United States. As of 2005, this rule is now in effect for all hard wood materials being imported from every country in the world.
ALB can also be spread domestically, mainly by contaminated firewood. People can unknowingly transport the beetle many miles.
First, the most important thing you can do to protect trees from the ALB is to check your trees once a month during the summer and early fall. A quick 10-minute walk through your yard could help you spot the signs of the beetle early enough to prevent it from spreading further. You can learn the signs here.
Second, if you reside in an area that is operating an eradication program, you can help by allowing program officials access to your property to perform tree surveys and remove infested, and in some cases, high-risk host trees.
Third, when moving woody material such as stumps, logs, brush, and twigs, please contact your local municipality for information on proper yard waste disposal. Residents should not move any infested tree material. Instead contact your eradication program office.
Finally, don’t move wood out of ALB-regulated areas, including firewood, and be careful when moving wood even when you aren’t in an ALB-regulated area. Wood can spread the beetle and potentially other tree pests and diseases.