In North America, Asian longhorned beetle outbreaks have been detected in the New York City metropolitan area (including northern New Jersey), Chicago, Toronto, Massachusetts, and southern Ohio. Several of these outbreaks have been eradicated; two outbreaks declared eradicated in spring 2013 were those in New Jersey (view news release) and Toronto (view news release). Eradication of the others is under way.
Unfortunately, in September 2013 Canadian officials discovered a new outbreak of the Asian longhorned beetle in Toronto. Judging by genetic studies, this new outbreak apparently resulted from a recent introduction (Wolf).
The Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) has been detected repeatedly in wood packaging moving around the world since its first detection in trade in 1992 (Haack et al. 2010). The beetle has entered North America repeatedly as a hitchhiker in wood packaging (USDA APHIS & Forest Service, 2000; Haack et al. 2010), resulting in numerous infestations; those recognized to date have been in Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and Toronto. In New Jersey, there were probably two separate introductions (Haack et al. 2010). All of these infestations were first found by homeowners (Haack et al. 2010) with the exception of the very small infestation in Boston, which was found by a groundskeeper.
The outbreak in Worcester, Massachusetts, discovered in 2008was large and well-established (present a an estimated decade or more before discovery [Brooks 2009]). Furthermore, Worcester is located in the midst of natural forests dominated by vulnerable maples (Haack et al. 2010). ByJuly 2014, officials had detected nearly 24,000 infested trees; and removed more than 34,000 infested or vulnerable trees (ALB eNewsletter – July 8, 2014).
Equally alarming is the outbreak in Bethel, Ohio, a town 30 miles southeast of Cincinnati. It was reported by a property owner in June 2011, probably 4 years after the outbreak began. The area quarantined in Clermont County, Ohio, now totals 61 square miles (OH ALB Coop Program April 10, 2013.). By April 2015, 65,300 infested and vulnerable trees had been removed and another 26,300 trees had been treated with pesticides (Ohio Asian longhorned beetle cooperative eradication program Media Update April 23, 2015).
The ALB has also become established in Europe – 1 site in Austria, 3 in France, 2 in Germany, and 1 in Italy (Haack et al. 2010). At all of these sites, the Asian longhorned beetle is believed to have been present for years before its presence was noticed.
The Asian longhorned beetle feeds on a wide variety of woody vegetation – dozens of species from 15 plant families (Haack et al. 2010). In North America, the beetle most commonly attacks maples (Acer), elms (Ulmus) and willows (Salix) (Haack et al. 2010).
Upon detection of the second known North American outbreak in 1998, U.S. and Canadian authorities moved to prevent additional introductions. Their efforts resulted initially in tightened regulations governing wood packaging from China (USDA APHIS, 1998); then, in 2002, to adoption of an international standard requiring treatment of all wood packaging used in international trade (International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures #15). Widespread adoption of the standard (the U.S. and Canada began full implementation in 2006) has resulted in a reduction of the incidence of live insects in wood packaging. However, live insects are still occasionally found in wood packaging. It is unclear if their continued presence is the result of treatment failure, insect tolerance of the treatment, infestation after treatment, or fraud. In 2009, ISPM #15 was revised to limit the size of residual bark allowed to be present. It is expected that this will further reduce the occurrence and number of live pests (Haack et al. 2010).
Authorities have also attempted to eradicate the Asian longhorned beetle outbreaks, most aggressively in North America. As of early 2015, federal, state, and local officials in the United States have destroyed more than 120,000 trees. APHIS has spent more than $500 million; cooperators have spent additional funds (USDA APHIS 2015). Canadian authorities have cut close to 26,000 trees (Haack et al. 2010). The Chicago and Jersey City outbreaks have been declared eradicated (Haack et al. 2010); the New York City outbreaks persist (although they are smaller than earlier); the Toronto outbreak appears close to eradication (Haack et al. 2010).
Despite the significant expenditures, the Asian longhorned beetle eradication program has been hampered for several years by inadequate funding; as a result, the projected date for eradication of the New York City outbreaks was postponed to 2033 or later (City of New York 2007). Detection of the Worcester outbreak seems to have sparked a change of heart: Congressional appropriations for the eradication program increased from $20 million in fiscal year 2009 to $33 million in fiscal year 2010; and the Administration has released a total of $65 million in emergency funds between September 2008 and January 2010.
Europe also has a policy of eradicating the Asian longhorned beetle. Since 2001, the European countries have cut more than 1,700 trees and spent nearly 550,000 Euros (Haack et al. 2010). No outbreaks are yet considered eradicated.
The reason for the expensive efforts are expectations of the damage that Asian longhorned beetle would cause if allowed to spread. As noted, the beetle attacks dozens of species from 15 plant families (Haack et al. 2010). In North America, the beetle attacks most commonly maples (Acer), elms (Ulmus) and willows (Salix) (Haack et al. 2010).Northern hardwood forests reaching from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes and beyond are made up of vulnerable species (see map) – approximately 48 million acres in the United States plus the majority of Canada’s hardwood forests (USDA APHIS & Forest Service, 2000).
Forest types dominated by ALB hosts (maple-beech-birch and elm-ash-cottonwood) make up 45% of the forests in the 20-state region reaching from Maine to Minnesota and Maryland to Missouri. At the national level, these forests represent 10% of all U.S. forests. Additional maples, elms, willows, sycamores and poplars grow in the South and West. Thus, the Asian longhorned beetle threatens more than 10% of all U.S. forests.
Economic losses would be greatest to the urban forest. A study of seven cities in the northeast and north central regions (Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Jersey City, New York City, Philadelphia, and Syracuse) found that half of their trees are vulnerable to Asian longhorned beetle. The estimated cost to remove and replace the trees killed (called compensatory value) would vary from $72 million in Jersey City to $2.2 billion in New York City. Nationwide, the Asian longhorned beetle could kill a third of urban trees, which have a compensatory value of $669 billion (Nowak et al., 2001). In rural areas, the Asian longhorned beetle would damage a range of commercial interests. One obvious impact would be on timber production. Discounted monetary losses for timber resources around Chicago and New York would range from $1 to $10 million 30 years after introduction (USDA APHIS & Forest Service, 2000). Other industries likely to be affected include maple syrup production, nursery production, and "leaf peeper" tourism. In 2010, maple syrup production was valued at nearly $67 million (USDA APHIS 2015). In Vermont alone, the multiplier effect of the maple sugar industry to related equipment, manufacturing, packaging, and retail sectors equals $105 million annually and represents 4,000 seasonal jobs (USDA National Ag. Statistics Service, 2009; Andrienne Wojciechowski , pers. comm. December 2008). Autumn tourists spent close to $2 billion in just two states (Vermont and Maine) (USDA APHIS 2015)
U.S. and Canadian researchers have found that Asian longhorned beetles do use chemical signals - pheremones - for mate-finding. They are exploring incorporation of these chemicals - along with volatiles released by host plants – to improve traps for detecting the beetles (Haack et al. 2010), which could reduce both the costs and the societal disruption of eradication efforts by enabling detection of infestations at an earlier stage, when fewer trees are infested.
For more information on this pest, please visit:
Brooks, D. 2009. Asian invasion: Meet the beetles – hopefully not coming soon to your town. Nashua Telegraph Sunday, January 11, 2009
City of New York Parks and Recreation. Asian Longhorned Beetle Factsheet. Prepared 3/15/2007.
Haack, R.A., F. Herard, J. Sun, J.J. Turgeon. 2010. Managing Invasive Populations of Asian Longhorned Beetle and Citrus Longhorned Beetle: A Worldwide Perspective. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 2010. 55: 521-46
Nowak, D. J., J. E. Pasek, R. A. Sequeira, D. E. Crane, V. C. Mastro. 2001. Potential Effect of Anoplophora glabripennis (Coleoptera: Cermabycidae) on Urban Trees in the United States. Journal of Economic Entomology (94): 116-122.
United States Department of Agriculture. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. 1998. Proposed Interim Rule on Solid Wood Packing Material from China. Environmental Assessment. September 1998.
United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Forest Service 2000. Pest Risk Assessment for Importation of Solid Wood Packing Materials into the United States. USDA APHIS and Forest Service. August 2000.
United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. 2015. Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
United States Department of Agriculture, National Ag. Statistics Service. 2009. Crop Values 2007 Summary.
Worcester Telegram. 2009. More than 18,000 trees cut down in beetle battle. March 19, 2009.
USDA APHIS press release June 17, 2011.
Westport News. Inspectors find tree-killing Asian beetle in Ohio. June 18, 2011.
Kathy Smith, Extension Program Director – Forestry, Ohio State University Extension, pers. comm. July 19, 2011.
Clermont County Ohio website. Beetle Busters Searching Trees Across Tate Township. Immediate Release July 14, 2011
USDA APHIS Federal Order DA-2011-40 , July 13, 2011, Quarantine Notice for Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis)
Wolf, Greg. Canadian Food Inspection Agency, pers. comm. October 2013.