At a recent seminar on urban forestry, Wendi Van Buren of The Ohio Division of Forestry presented an update on the presence of the Asian longhorned beetle in Ohio.
I have written about this pest before, along with the gypsy moth and the emerald ash borer, but here is the latest take on its progress into Ohio from Van Buren.
The beetle has no known predator in the United States and threatens billions of dollars worth of urban and suburban trees, as well as recreational and forest woodlands. It was introduced from China, probably in wood packing material, and has been found in warehouses across the country, as well as in Europe, where it is decimating woodlands.
The most serious infestation in Ohio is centered in Clermont County in the southwest of the state, and other affected areas are in New York and Massachusetts.
An estimated 10,000 trees have been lost in the past two years. Previous trouble spots in Chicago, New Jersey and Staten Island have managed to eradicate the problem, and so with careful monitoring, it will be possible to remove the beetle here.
Nowhere is safe, mainly due to movement of firewood from one area to another.
The beetle attacks hardwood trees, with the maple a heavy favorite, but also the boxelder, birch, buckeye, elm, horse chestnut and willow.
This is a large insect, with a body more than an inch long and shiny black with random white spots. The six legs are blue, and a pair of antennae longer than the body are striped black and white.
The adult beetles are most easily seen in the summer and early fall. Because of their size and coloring, they are easy to spot.
As well as sightings of the beetle itself, people should take note of signs of infestation such as shallow divots in tree bark, dime-sized round exit holes in a tree, coarse sawdust-like
frass on the ground and sap seeping from the wounds in the tree.
The life cycle begins with the adult female laying eggs in the summer that will hatch in 10-15 days, after which the larvae feed under the bark for a while and then bore into the tree where they pupate.
The fat, juicy larvae are beloved by woodpeckers, and this may be another sign of their presence on hardwoods.
The adult forms will emerge from the tree around Memorial Day, leaving a half-inch round hole as they chew their way out.
Authorities have learned lessons from their war on the emerald ash borer, and all responsible agencies are working together on the problem. Affected trees need to be removed as soon as discovered and the lumber has to be burned or broken down into 1-inch fragments, along with total stump removal.
Surveys are continually in progress throughout the state because eradication depends on early discovery.
Anyone seeing one of these nuisances should call (866) 702-9938 or (419) 447-9722. More information is available at www.beetlebusters.info or at www.facebook.com/asianlong
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.