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Agencies Collaborate on Tools to Manage the Asian Longhorned Beetle

The risk of dispersal around infested trees in Worcester, MA is shown on the map.  The results of these risk tools provide new information to facilitate the eradication of the Asian longhorned beetle. Photo by R. Talbot Trotter, USDA Forest Service

Working across natural resource agencies, researchers have collaborated to build new tools that benefit state and federal agencies in efforts to eradicate the invasive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB).

The Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis Motschulsky) is an invasive insect that threatens the sustainability of maples, willows, poplars, and at least 12 other genera of trees native to North America. State and federal natural resource agencies have mobilized to eradicate infestations, and they have had some success, but it has been at a cost of approximately $750 million. Eradicating the beetle depends on destroying infested trees, but first the infested trees must be found. Currently, the best way to find infested trees is with visual surveys, searching each tree for the chew marks or exit holes left by adults. These marks are very small and occur across large landscapes with millions of trees, thus finding the infested trees becomes a "needle in the haystack" challenge. Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Center for Plant Health Science and Technology have worked together to develop a suite of tools to help identify where in the haystack to search. These tools reconstruct the patterns of beetle movement which are unique to each infestation, and then apply the patterns to the surrounding landscape to identify potential areas of high and low risk. Combined with local expertise, the tools can help identify where to search, when to search, and how often to search, which greatly increases the efficiency and efficacy of eradication programs.

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External Partners

  • USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Center for Plant Health Science and Technology