On August 20th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it has made $1 million available to officials in Worcester County, Massachusetts to plant replacement trees for the ones that were removed during Asian Longhorn Beetle (ALB) eradication efforts in recent years. The trees selected for planting are not potential hosts of ALB and will consist primarily of conifers, ornamental cherries and tree lilacs. In addition to rehabilitating the visual and economic impacts on the landscape the USDA is using this replanting project as an opportunity to engage with the community to educate them about this invasive beetle, how to recognize it, and what steps to take if a resident finds one. It’s a chance for the USDA to deploy citizen diagnosticians in the hopes of discovering ALB before it becomes established in new areas and more difficult to eradicate.
ALB is an invasive wood boring beetle capable of infesting and killing a broad diversity of trees including many of our native and ornamental taxa — Maples (Acer), Ash (Fraxinus), Birch (Betula), Elm (Ulmus), European mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia), Goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata), Hackberry (Celtis), Horse chestnut (Aesculus) , Katsura (Cercidiphyllum), London plane tree (Platanus), Mimosa (Mimosa), Poplar (Populus), and Willow (Salix). It was first discovered in the U.S. in Brooklyn, NY in 1996 and thought to be introduced from China through infested wooden pallets or wood packing material. The first find of ALB in Massachusetts was in Worcester in 1998. Currently 110 square miles of central MA are regulated for the pest.
ALB is currently found in four U.S. states (MA, NJ, NY, OH) and each state is involved in eradication efforts. However, this pest can spread easily by transporting infested firewood and wooden pallets from regulated areas. ALB is arguably the greatest insect threat to our natural and ornamental landscapes. Please visit the USDA’s BeetleBusters site (http://beetlebusters.info/) to learn more about this destructive pest, how to identify it, and who to contact if necessary.