Ag secretary asks for help on Asian longhorned beetle

ROCK SPRINGS, Pa.-- Agriculture Secretary George Greig today asked the public to help keep the Asian Longhorned Beetle from entering the state, saying the non-native, invasive wood-boring pest could severely harm Pennsylvania's $25 billion hardwoods industry.

"The Asian Longhorned Beetle has not yet been found in Pennsylvania, but if it is allowed to enter it could pose a significant threat to the state's timber, maple syrup and tourism industries," said Greig during an event at Ag Progress Days marking August as Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month.

"I encourage Pennsylvanians to learn to recognize this pest to help protect our valuable wood resources that are a vital part of our economy," Greig added.
Greig added that since many species of wood-boring insects, including the Asian Longhorned Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer, can be spread through transport of infested firewood and logs, campers and homeowners should use only locally harvested firewood, burn all of it on-site and not carry it to new locations.
The adult Asian Longhorned Beetle is three-quarters to one-and-a-quarter inch long, has a jet-black glossy body with 20 white or yellow spots on each wing, and long blue or black and white antennae.

Beetle larvae tunnel through tree stems causing girdling that cuts off the flow of nutrients, eventually killing the tree. Adult beetles leave round exit holes in the tree, resulting in coarse sawdust at the base of infested parts of the tree. There is no known practical control for this wood-boring pest other than destroying infested trees.

The beetles attack and eventually kill many species of trees, but prefer maple species. Soft (red maple) and hard (sugar maple) trees make up more than 25 percent of Pennsylvania's hardwood forests. The beetle also attacks species of ash, birch, buckeye, elm, horse chestnut, poplar and willow trees. As much as $10 billion in lumber and pulp production and $3 million in maple syrup sales are at risk.

Native to China, Mongolia and Korea, the beetle was first discovered in North America in New York in 1996 and has since been found in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio, and mainly in urban settings. Pennsylvania's proximity to New York, New Jersey and Ohio raise a concern due to frequent recreational travel by residents.

Should the beetle be found in Pennsylvania, the Department of Agriculture will partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Plant Protection and Quarantine division and the U.S. Forest Service to implement a full-scale eradication program.

Such a program would entail surveys, imposing quarantines to prevent accidental transport of the beetle, removal and destruction of infested host trees and high risk trees, as well as outreach and replanting efforts.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

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