By Rhonda Santos
You’ve probably already heard about the Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) — or ALB for short — and its impact on the nation’s trees.
Since its discovery in the U.S. in 1996, the ALB has led to the loss of nearly 130,000 trees, and the federal government has spent more than $500 million on control efforts. The insect has no known natural predators in the U.S. It bores through the tissues that carry water and nutrients throughout the tree, starving and weakening the tree until it dies. Early detection is important in stopping the spread of the ALB because once it infests a tree, that tree must be removed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes August as Tree Check Month by undertaking strategies to raise awareness about the pest and by encouraging the public to report any suspicions. August is the time of year when the number of beetles emerging from trees will peak, so it’s the most likely time to see an adult insect, as well as the damage it causes to the tree.
The best line of defense against the ALB involves encouraging people to take the time to check the trees on their property and in the surrounding community for the beetle and for signs of tree damage. Even if you only have ten minutes to spare, you’ll be doing a great service.
Tree Check Month asks people to help save trees in August by:
– Taking a look at the trees on their properties or in their communities
– Reporting any beetles or signs of damage, including dime-sized exit holes, shallow scars in the bark, dead branches, or sawdust-like material on the ground or on tree branches
– Only purchasing firewood where it will be burned
The sooner an infestation is reported, the sooner efforts can be made to quickly contain and isolate an area in order to prevent future destruction. For more information or to file a report, please visit www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com, or call 1-866-702-9938 to be forwarded to your State Plant Health Director’s office.
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Rhonda Santos is a public information officer at the USDA-APHIS Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program.