We have just accepted the facts the emerald ash borer is going to cause the disappearance of most of our ash trees and the Asian lady beetle will continue to invade our homes in the fall, looking for warmth for the winter. Now, we have another Asian import to watch for.
The Asian longhorn beetle came to the United States in pallets and crates imported from the East. The time of their arrival is unknown, but it has had time to spread from its source in New York to New Jersey, Maine, Illinois and parts of Canada.
This beetle does not limit its attack to one species of tree, but will make a home in any maple, birch, buckeye, elm or willow. The only way to fight its spread into new areas is to locate and destroy infected trees.
Repeated attacks on a tree will girdle stems and branches, and lead to eventual dieback of the tree crown and subsequent death of the tree.
For this reason, it is necessary that gardeners and farmers are on the lookout and report any possible sightings to authorities.
The first sighting in the U.S. was made by a homeowner in Brooklyn who noticed tree damage on his property and reported it.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The beetle is quite large - more than an inch in length - and has long antennae banded with black and white that are longer that its body.
The body is shiny black with white spots, and the six legs may have blue feet. With these unusual markings, the beetle should be easy to see and to identify.
During summer months, they could be spotted on walls, cars and outdoor furniture as well as on tree branches and trunks.
Females lay a single egg in each depression they chew into the bark of a host tree, with 60 or more of these little nests in one area. After the egg hatches, the larva will tunnel through the bark to reach the layers beneath which provide food through the winter.
In the spring, the fully developed new adults chew their way out, leaving perfectly round exit holes in the bark as a sign of their presence.
Other signs Asian longhorn beetles are in the area are sap flowing from the egg niches in the summer, accumulation of sawdust around the base of the tree caused by the larvae as they tunnel, and frass (droppings) in the same area.
The USDA has imposed quarantines around areas where sightings have been confirmed, to prevent human-assisted spread. No individual may remove firewood, logs, stumps or trimmed branches from these places.
Our area is not yet affected, but a vigilant watch is needed to pick up the first sign of the beetle's presence.