New England states battling a beetle native to China

The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) has become a major concern in New England, with Gov. John Baldacci of Maine proclaiming August as Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month. Considered an invasive species, the beetle poses serious threats to many types of hardwood trees.

Beetle feeds on tree’s nutrients

The beetle, which measures 1-1½” as an adult, is recognizable by a long antennae and a black body with irregular white spots on its elytra or wing covers. During the larval stage, the ALB bores deep into a tree’s heartwood where it feeds on the tree’s nutrients. The tunneling damages and eventually kills the tree causing widespread mortality of poplar, willow, elm and maple.

Telltale signs of a beetle infestation

There are five signs that indicate the presence of an infestation:

  1. The beetle itself
  2. Oval to round pit marks in the bark where eggs have been laid
  3. Oozing sap from the egg niches
  4. Accumulation of sawdust created by larvae boring into the tree
  5. Round holes where adult beetles emerge from the tree

2008 beetle infestation posed costly problem for Worcester, MA

The problem is not limited to Maine. An infestation in Worcester in 2008 saw $50 million in federal and state funds spent to eradicate the beetle and 25,000 infested trees in the local area cut down in an effort to halt the spread. Because of the staggering amount of damage these creatures can do, the federal government is involved in dealing with them from the beginning and Massachusetts residents have their own government hot line, 866-702-9938, to call should there be any sightings of the beetles.