In 2011 Ohio became the fifth U.S. state affected by the Asian longhorned beetle when an infestation was found in Tate Township in Clermont County, located about 25 miles east of Cincinnati. Since its detection, two additional areas in Clermont County have reported infested trees. These recent infestations are linked to the movement of firewood in 2010, before regulations for the beetle restricting the movement of firewood and other host tree material were put in place. In one case, adult beetles emerged from one pile of firewood which led to the infestation of 46 surrounding trees on two different private properties.
The Asian longhorned beetle was first discovered in the U.S. in 1996, likely arriving here unknowingly inside wood packing material from Asia. The insect has no known natural predators and it threatens recreational areas, forests, and suburban and urban shade trees. The beetle bores through the tissues that carry water and nutrients throughout the tree, which causes the tree to starve, weaken and eventually die. Once a tree is infested, it must be removed. It has caused the loss of over 80,000 trees in Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Illinois.
"If the beetle is allowed to spread, it could have disastrous implications on various industries, says Rhonda Santos with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Since the beetle attacks 13 genera of trees, including birch, maple, elm, and yes, the buckeye, the timber, nursery, recreation and maple syrup industries could suffer severe losses.
"In my role with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, I have seen the devastation caused by the Asian longhorned beetle," says Santos. This invasive pest has led to the removal of more than 30,000 trees in central Massachusetts alone, and over 9,000 trees in Ohio. When the goal is to protect our natural resources, the concept of removing trees is a difficult one. But the threat from this invasive pest is far too severe to do nothing.
How can you help? Take 10 minutes and look at your trees. The first line of defense is you. USDA has designated August as Tree Check Month. Adult beetles are most active during the summer and early fall. Throughout the summer, they can be seen on tree trunks and branches, walls, outdoor furniture, cars, and sidewalks.