The Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) (ALB), sometimes called Starry Sky (Sky Oxen in China) beetle, is native to China and other areas of eastern Asia, where it causes widespread mortality of poplar, willow, elm, and maple trees.
Asian longhorned beetles are big, showy insects. They are shiny black with white spots dashed irregularly on their wings. Adults are typically 1-1.5 inches long. The distinctive antennae that give the beetle its common name are as long as the body itself in females and almost twice the body length in males.
The Asian longhorned beetle, or ALB, is an invasive species in North America and it is a serious threat to many species of deciduous hardwood trees. During its larval stage the ALB bores deep into a tree's heartwood, where it feeds on the tree's nutrients. This tunneling damages and eventually kills the tree. Tree species considered ALB host species include all species of maple (Norway, sugar, silver, and red maple) as well as horse-chestnut, poplar, willow, birch, London plane tree, ash, mimosa (silk tree) and elm.
While the Asian longhorned beetle can fly for distances of 400 yards or more in search of a host tree, they tend to lay eggs in the same tree from which they emerged as adults until the insect population becomes too dense on that tree. During the summer months, a mated adult ALB female chews 35 to 90 individual depressions (called oviposition sites) into the host tree's bark and lays an egg in each of the pits. The eggs hatch in 10-15 days and the white, caterpiller-like larvae tunnel into the tree's phloem and cambium layers beneath the tree bark. After several weeks, the larvae tunnel deeper in the tree's heartwood where they mature into pupae and then adult beetles over the winter months. The full-grown, adult ALBs then chew their way out of the tree the next summer, typically as early as May and as late as October or November (depending on climate), leaving perfectly round exit holes that are approximately 1cm (3/8") in diameter.
Signs of Asian longhorned beetle infestation include: the perfectly round, dime-sized exit holes; frass, a sawdust-like material comprised of tree shavings and insect waste; and oozing sap. Dead and dying tree limbs or branches and yellowing leaves when there has been no drought may also signal ALB infestation. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research indicates this beetle can survive and reproduce in most sections of the country where suitable host trees exist.
Infestations in the United States
Adult ALBs can be seen from late spring to fall, depending on the climate. The ALB was first discovered in the United States
in 1996 in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Shortly after, another infestation was detected in Amityville
on Long Island
. Since then, infestations have been found in the Islip area of Long Island, in Queens, and in Manhattan. In fact, several infested trees were removed around Central Park
. The ALB was discovered in Chicago
in 1998. An ALB infestation was detected in Hudson County, New Jersey in 2002 and in the Central New Jersey counties of Middlesex and Union Counties in 2004. In 2008 a sizeable infestation was discovered in Worcester, Massachusetts. Inspection of all host trees within a 32 sq. mile quarantine area has revealed that 700 (~12%) are infested ; there is some evidence that the infestation may date back as far as 1997.
Beetles have also been discovered in Toronto, Canada. The beetle has also invaded Britain, Austria and Germany.
Alert workers have also uncovered and reported ALBs in warehouses in CA, FL, IL, IN, MI, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, WA, WI and in BC, ON in Canada.
The ALB was believed to have arrived in New York City
in the 1980s from wood packing material. According to Victor Mastro, the Director of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Laboratory
on Cape Cod
, the center of the infection zone was a warehouse which imported plumbing supplies from China
(Smith, 2003). The infestations in Hudson County, New Jersey and on Long Island are believed to have spread from the Brooklyn point of entry. The infestations in Chicago
and central New Jersey are believed to have come from a separate point of entry.
The Greenpoint infestation was first reported by Ingram Carter of Greenpoint on a Saturday in August 1996 and identified by Cornell University entomologist Richard Hoebeke on August 19th. The Amityville infestation was brought, inadvertently, from Brooklyn by the Mike Ryan Tree Services, a tree pruning company, which performs work for the NYNEX telephone company.
Timeline of discoveries
- August 19, 1996: identified in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NYC
- Feb 1999: Bayside, Queens
- July 1999: Flushing, Queens
- August 1999: Upper East Side, Manhattan
- June 2000: Lower East Side, Manhattan
- July 2000: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
- October 2001: FDR Drive & 34th St, Manhattan
- January 2002: Central Park, Manhattan
- March 2003: Forest Park, Queens
- April 2003: Kew Gardens Hills, Queens
- September 2003: Mount Olivet Cemetery, Queens
- More sites have been found in 2004 onward
- September 23, 1996: discovered in Amityville, NY
- October 17, 1997: discovered in Lindenhurst, NY
- July 13, 1998: discovered in Ravenswood neighborhood, Chicago, IL
- July 31, 1998: Addison, IL
- August 3, 1998: Summit, IL
- September 2, 1999: Park Ridge, IL
- November 28, 2000: O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, IL
- September 8, 1999: discovered in Islip, NY
- October 11, 2002: discovered in Jersey City, NJ
- September 18, 2003: discovered in Toronto, ON and Vaughan, ON
- August 17, 2004: discovered in Carteret, Rahway, and Linden, NJ
- June 16, 2005: 2 live adult ALBs found outside of a warehouse in Sacramento, CA
- April 25, 2006: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication Program launched an ALB curriculum program as a pilot program geared towards Chicago middle and high school students. "Beetlebusters" still teaches students about the biology of the ALB and promotes students, teachers and families to search ALB host trees in backyards, schoolyards and the community for signs of infestation and to report the results of the search to a special Beetlebusters website. The Beetlebusters program expanded a summer 2005 camp project into schools.
- March 1, 2007: ALB Cooperative Eradication Program inspectors discovered a new Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation on Prall’s Island in Richmond County, New York. (Detailed APHIS timeline at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/asian_lhb/chron-2000-pres.shtml)
- March 22, 2007: An ALB-infested tree was found on Staten Island, New York, within ¼ mile of the infestation found on Prall’s Island on March 1, 2007. This was the first infested tree found in Staten Island.
- May 2007: USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service launched extensive outreach and public education project that urged residents of Chicago to look for signs of the Asian longhorned beetle. The "Countdown to Eradication" had begun. No ALBs were discovered during the summer and fall months in Chicago.
- April 7, 2008: New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus joined with United States Department of Agriculture representatives to declare Jersey City and Hoboken free of the tree-killing Asian longhorned beetle. ALB was declared officially eradicated from Hudson County, New Jersey.
- April 17, 2008: The Asian Longhorned Beetle was declared eradicated from Illinois at an event held in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, the same neighborhood where beetles were found infesting trees in 1998.
- August 7, 2008: discovery reported in Worcester, MA.
- September 28, 2008: regulated area (due to infestation) includes the city of Worcester,MA, and parts of the towns of Boylston,MA< Holden,MA, Shrewsbury,MA, and West Boylston,MA. Infested trees continue to be discovered.
The US Federal government is trying to eradicate this species primarily for two reasons:
- If it becomes established it could significantly impact natural forests and urban environment.
- Due to the current limited infestation size, it is believed that eradication efforts can be successful.
The steps that have been taken to eliminate the ALB include:
- Quarantines. Quarantines have been established around infested areas to prevent accidental spread of ALB by people.
- Infested trees cut, chipped and burned. All infested trees are being removed, chipped in place, and the chips are being burned. The stumps of infested trees are ground to below the soil level. All tree removal is done by certified tree care personnel to ensure that the process is completed properly.
- Insecticide treatments. Research is underway to determine the effectiveness of certain insecticides such as imidacloprid against ALB. Insecticidal treatments have begun in New York and Chicago in hopes of preventing and containing infestations. Chicago's program of imidacloprid treatments for healthy trees of potential host species within a one-eighth to one-half mile radius of infested trees successfully removed Illinois from quarantine in August 2006. As of December 2006, New Jersey's policy was to cut down all healthy trees of the potential host species within a one-eighth to one-quarter mile radius of infested trees.
- Extensive surveys. All host trees on public and private property located within an established distance from an infested area are surveyed by trained personnel. Infested areas are re-surveyed at least once per year for 3-5 years after the last beetle or infested tree is found.
US customs regulations were changed on September 18, 1998 (effective December 17, 1998) to require wooden packing materials from China be chemically treated or dried via kiln to prevent further infestations of the Asian long-horned beetle from arriving. Pest inspection, new rules, and public awareness are the key steps to prevention of the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle.
Trees that are being planted to replace host trees include: Serviceberry or Shadbush, Ironwood, Southern catalpa, Hackberry, Turkish filbert, Ginkgo, Honey locust, Kentucky coffeetree, Tuliptree, Dawn redwood, White oak, Swamp white oak, Bur oak, English oak, Japanese lilac, Bald cypress, Basswood, and Littleleaf linden.
- "Wanted: The Asian Longhorned Beetle" USDA APHIS Publication, May 2008, Suzanne Bond
- Antipin, Judy and Dilley, Thomas. "Chicago vs. Asian Longhorn Beetle: A Portrait of Success"
- Smith, Jennifer. "Monsters in Miniature: An Exotic Invader Threatens U.S. Hardwoods". April 13, 2003 Newsday.com.
- Woodsen, Mary. "Cities Under Siege". American Forests Summer 2000: 7.