The northeast states contain a number of non-native insect species that inflict significant, and often lethal, damage to numerous tree species that are abundant in forests. A few of these insect species, most of which are beetles, are notable for their habit of infesting and killing a wide range of tree species that are also abundant in residential and urban areas of the northeast US. The Asian longhorned beetle is one such species, and although this invasive insect is now under control in the state of Massachusetts, officials in the state are worried that the insect will soon become an unmanageable pest again in the near future.
The Asian longhorned beetle is widely considered to be the most destructive invasive tree pest that has ever emerged in the northeast. These insects have been found in residential yards in Massachusetts where they infest, and inevitably kill, several hardwood tree species that include maple, birch, horse chestnut, poplar, willow, elm, ash and more. Once Asian longhorned beetles begin feeding on a tree, saving the tree from death is not possible. Since 1996, this species has killed well over 80,000 trees in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Illinois. Back in 2008, a whopping 28,000 trees were destroyed in Worcester alone, many of which were located in residential yards. Boston has also lost a large amount of trees to this species’ infestations.
Asian longhorned beetles can be hard to spot after they establish an infestation. This is due to the insect’s ability to quickly bore deep into a tree’s hardwood. Each tree these insects infest must be removed in compliance with a national quarantine program, making infestations on residential properties extremely expensive for homeowners. The Asian longhorned beetle can be recognized by its shiny black exterior that features white polka dots. The size of a typical specimen ranges from .75 to 1.25 inches in body length, and they inflict perfectly round dime-sized exit holes on a tree’s exterior. The species also deposits eggs in trees which leave behind oval scars on bark that usually measure .5 to .75 inches in length. Officials urge Massachusetts residents to be vigilant about reporting Asian longhorned beetle sightings on their property, and if any specimens are found, residents should contact the Massachusetts ALB Cooperative Eradication Program and a pest control professional immediately.
Do you worry about Asian longhorned beetle destruction on your property?