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The Health of Southern Forests, USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Protection, Southern Region

Other Stresssors


Asian Longhorned Beetle

Male Asian longhorned beetleFemale Asian longhorned beetle

Recently, an alarming exotic insect pest has arrived in the United States. While the Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anaplophora glabripennis), has yet to establish itself in the South, the insect has been found at several warehouses at several disparate locations within the region. One of the most destructive tree pests of all of Asia, this woodborer has few natural enemies in its native range and none in North America. Foresters, arborists, and forest entomologists alike, respect the destructive potential of this Cerambycid. Its prevention from further establishment has become one of the highest priorities of pest regulatory agencies.

First discovered in the United States in 1996 in Brooklyn, New York, the insect arrived as an infester of Chinese packing crates. Since then, the Asian Longhorned Beetle (or ALB for short) has shown just how aggressive a newly arrived exotic insect can become.  The beetle quickly colonized several trees in the area, and rapidly spread throughout the entire immediate neighborhood. Federal, state, and local governments are working aggressively to contain the insect within areas of known infestation, which now include Chicago, as well as the New York metro area.

The ALB infests a wide variety of hardwoods including Norway, sugar, silver and red maple, horse chestnut, poplar, willow, elm, mulberry, and black locust. Females chew oval, darkened notches in the bark of trees into which they deposit their eggs. Upon hatching, the larvae bore into the tree, feeding on the wood. The larvae feed on the heartwood of the tree throughout the winter, severely undermining the strength of the tree and its limbs.  Upon reaching maturity, the beetles bore out of the tree in late spring or summer, leaving a 3/8” hole as an exit point. Adult beetles then feed on the bark and leaves of trees.

Besides obviously destroying the value of saw logs, the larvae also are responsible for the development of hazardous tree conditions as they destroy valuable shade and landscape species. Many native wood boring beetles (e.g., the white oak borer and red oak borer) are able to co-exist with their hosts for years and even decades without causing death of the trees. But the ALB is so aggressive that its hosts are quickly honeycombed with tunnels and break apart from a lack of structural integrity.

There is no effective treatment for Asian Longhorned Beetle infestations except to destroy infested trees along with the eggs and larvae within them. In areas where the beetle is established, strict regulatory laws restrict the removal of wood from quarantine areas.

As international trade becomes less and less restrictive, the potential for further introductions and establishment of the ALB via Southern ports such as Savannah, Charleston, Mobile and New Orleans becomes more and more plausible. APHIS (Agricultural and Plant Health Inspection Service) is faced with the formidable task of preventing further establishment within U. S. shores.

To keep abreast of the latest rapidly evolving developments in the detection and control of ALB in the United States, refer to the following web site: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/alb/index.shtm