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Asian Longhorned Beetle

Michael Forlini | Oct 5, 2010

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In 1996, the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB, Anoplophora glabripennis) was discovered on several hardwood trees in Brooklyn, New York. The USDA declared an emergency in order to combat the infestation with regulatory and control actions. The ALB is a dark beetle with light colored spots and long antennas. These beetles were introduced into the United States from wood pallets and other wood packing material accompanying cargo shipments from Asia. Some regulators believed that the phase out of ozone depleting substances (Under the Montreal protocol) prohibited the use of insecticides, such as methyl bromide, that had been extremely receptive in terminating this pest in cargo shipments.

In 2008, the USDA announced the Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program for Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn, New York. Asian Longhorned Beetles were also detected in Worcester, Massachusetts and an eradication program was initiated by the USDA in 2008.

A separate introduction of the beetle was discovered on trees in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois sometime around 1998. An eradication program was established in 2006. Beetles were also detected in two separate New Jersey locations - in Jersey City in 2002 and in Middlesex/Union counties in 2004. The New Jersey Forest Service has posted charts for recommended trees to be replanted in affected areas.

As part of the eradication program in New York and Chicago, over 5,000 trees were removed in New York and 1,500 trees in Chicago. Tree removal has had a strong impact on the quality of life of thousands of residents living in infested areas.

The potential for economic, social, and environmental effects if this destructive pest were to become extensive and widespread in the United States. Several industries would feel the impact, including:


Treatment for the Asian Longhorned Beetles includes an aggressive quarantined program similar to the Emerald Ash Borer. Firewood and wood chips mulch are of significant concern. In 1999, a new chemical treatment, using the insecticide Imidacloprid, was developed by USDA APHIS scientists in China, and the decision was made to use the compound as an alternative to removing healthy trees. Imidacloprid diffuses in the plant via injections; its systemic properties then rely on insects ingesting the insecticide. Tree injection treatments began in 2000.

Chemical treatment options have created a debate among environmentalist and scientist, over the potential impacts of this chemical in groundwater.

The eradication programs for these pests rely heavily on quarantine areas and firewood restrictions. If you need firewood, please use a local source. Importation of firewood could be costly.

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