Asian Longhorned Beetle

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When one is hit by a cold or flu virus, it is like your body is under a slow attack.  Each oncoming symptom brings on a decrease in productivity.  As I deal with my first winter cold this week, I think about how the affects of a cold on my body must be similar to how a tree feels when an Asian Longhorned Beetle takes up residence in its bark and wood.  Like a virus, it starts to decrease the tree’s ability to perform, and can weaken it to the point of death. 

If you haven’t heard of the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), now is the time to pay attention.  It is native to China and Korea, but made it to Worcester, MA on August 2, 2008 where it destroyed many trees.  It was first spotted in Brookland, NY and has been found in Central Park as well.  Fortunately, it has not made its way to CT yet, but as residents, we are asked to keep a look out for ALB. 

This beetle prefers maples and many other hardwood trees such as boxelder, horse chestnut, buckeyes, willows, elms, mimosa, poplar, hackberry, and birches. It is a bit lazy.  It doesn’t care to fly because of its weight, but this doesn’t stop it from moving into trees and harming large areas of trees quickly.

Asian Longhorned

Shiny black body

This photo shows what it looks like with long black antennae that has alternating bands of black/white, shiny body with white spots, and six legs.  It begins life as an egg that is laid in very shallow dents of the tree’s outer bark.  As it changes into a pupa, it will drill into the tree.  On its way out as a mature beetle, it will leave dime-sized, almost perfectly round, exit holes where it emerges. 

During a talk about the ALB by Rose Hiskes of the CT Agricultural Experiment Station, she said if a pencil can be pushed into the hole to a depth 1/2″, it may be the former home of this beetle.  Other signs of it are oval scars on the bark where the eggs were laid.  You may also notice pencil shaving like material around the tree’s base, or yellow leaves at the top.

The sightings of this beetle has so far been the result of citizens noticing it first.  In fact, when found in Worcester, a woman called her experiment station, saying she recently moved into her residence, and saw beetles she had not seen before.  Shortly after she emailed pictures to the Ag Station, the experts rushed up there the very next morning to establish an immediate plan of action.  It is critical we keep an eye out for this beetle and if spotted, report it by calling (203) 974-8474 or email

ALB Specimens

Pointing Out

The ALB is visible from late spring through fall.  The adults emerge around July, but the larvea can be in cut wood as well.  Word is going out that you should NOT move firewood, especially from state to state.  You may think it is harmless but this insect devasted trees in Worcester which is just over the CT line!  If you have firewood at campsites, burn it, don’t move it back to your home residence. It is costly to not only eliminate the pest, but to reestablish the area with healthy trees. 

Rose Hiskes from the Windsor Ag Station also pointed out that the beetle often takes up residence at the highest point of trees where the food is most concentrated in the bark and wood.  Thus, remember to look up.  Yellowing leaves at the top or dead limbs can be a signal, especially when this occurs in spring, summer when leaves should not be changing into fall colors.  ALB also chews on the viens of leaves. 



This photo shows beetles that look similar to ALB.  Note some are smaller, no spots.

Stop the chances by being aware when you are out taking walks in the woods or gardening.  Search and report any findings to 1-866-702-9938 for New England, or contact your State Department of Agriculture or the USDS State Plant Health Director.    For more info:

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