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Can We Eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle?

Posted by Rhonda Santos, APHIS Public Affairs Specialist in Animals Plants
Apr 23, 2013
Asian longhorned beetle and "exit hole." Credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA-APHIS
Asian longhorned beetle and "egg site." Credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA-APHIS

This past March, almost 11 years after being found in New Jersey, federal and state agriculture officials are finally able to say that the state’s long-running battle against the non-native Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is over.

New Jersey is the second state to declare itself free from the invasive tree-killing insect.  The beetle was successfully eradicated from Illinois in 2008, and the ALB-regulated area of Islip, New York, also achieved eradication in 2011.  So, getting rid of this “hungry pest” is possible.  That’s good news, because, depending on where you live, 70 percent of your community’s tree canopy could be lost to ALB.

The best line of defense is you.

Each year, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service observes April as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.  I am asking you to take a few minutes to learn about the Asian longhorned beetle; yes, what the beetle looks like, but more importantly, the kinds of damage it causes.

ALB is already responsible for the loss of more than 80,000 trees in the U.S.  It attacks many species of hardwood trees, including maple, ash, elm and birch trees.  But in addition to the beetle itself, one distinct characteristic of the damage that it causes is holes in trees as the adult beetle emerges out.

These “exit holes” are about the size of a dime and are perfectly round.  They can be seen on tree trunks and branches.  Other signs include shallow depressions or scars on the bark, sawdust-like wood shavings around the tree, and even dead or fallen branches.

Now is a great time to look at your trees for this pest because many trees still have not yet leafed out, and so you can see further up the tree.  But, please also mark your calendars to look again in August as August is Tree Check Month for ALB, and is the time of year when you will be most likely to see an adult beetle.  Checking trees on your property and around your community when you are out and about is a way to help protect your trees and aid in early detection.

Early reporting of the ALB is essential to stopping the spread of this invasive pest.  The sooner we know about an ALB infestation, the sooner we can do something about it to protect neighboring trees.

By taking a few minutes to learn about ALB and look at your trees, you can save more trees and keep your neighborhood safe from this pest.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has declared April as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. Throughout the month, APHIS is posting a series of blog entries here and also share invasive plant pest and disease information through our twitter feed. APHIS and its federal and state partners are fighting to protect our communities, our public lands, and our agricultural resources from invasive species. But we can’t do it alone. Join the fight by visiting

Category/Topic: Animals Plants