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USDA URGES RESIDENTS TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THE INVASIVE ASIAN LONGHORNED BEETLE

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Suzanne Bond (301) 734-6464
Meghan Klingel (301) 734-3266

Season's First Beetles Expected to Emerge in July

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2009--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is urging residents to search around hardwood trees in their community for signs of the invasive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). Residents should report signs of beetle infestation to the ALB eradication program in their state, to the APHIS state plant health director or to their state department of agriculture. To find the APHIS state plant health director, log onto www.aphis.usda.gov and click “Report a Pest or Disease” in the blue box to the right of the homepage and click on the home state.

Beetles typically make their first appearances during the month of July and will continue to be present during August, September and even October.

Federal, state and local partners are working to eradicate active Asian longhorned beetle infestations in portions of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. For maps detailing ALB regulated areas by state, please log onto www.aphis.usda.gov and click on “Maps” in the blue box to the right of the homepage. Residents of Illinois, north of Chicago, should also be on the lookout for signs of ALB after detection of a single beetle in Deerfield, Ill., in August 2008. Deerfield is outside of the former Chicago quarantine zone. Beetles could exist undetected in other locations in the United States, including New England.

“July is the time of year when adult beetles are emerging from a winter spent growing and developing deep inside the hardwood tree species they infest, so they are going to be easy to spot if one knows what to look for,” said Christine Markham, national director of the Asian longhorned beetle cooperative eradication program. “It is important that residents familiarize themselves with signs of ALB infestation and monitor hardwood trees and surrounding areas for this damaging invasive insect.”

The ALB adults are about 1 to 1.5 inches long, and have a shiny jet-black body with distinctive white spots and long antennae banded in black and white. Adult beetles can be found anywhere, including benches, car hoods, patio furniture, sides of houses, sidewalks etc. Place any insect spotted in a jar and put the jar in a refrigerator or freezer. The ALB does not bite or sting.

The ALB infests hardwood trees such as all species of maple, birch, horse chestnut, poplar, willow, elm and ash. Signs of an infestation, in addition to adult beetles, include: the perfectly round, dime-sized (approximately 3/8 inch diameter) holes left by adult beetles exiting a tree; sawdust-like material on the ground around the trunk or on tree limbs; yellowing leaves and oozing sap.

Upon hatching from eggs laid just under the bark, ALB larvae bore into healthy hardwood trees and feed on living tree tissue and heartwood over the winter. Throughout the summer, adult beetles emerge from the round exit holes and briefly feed on the leaves and small twigs of host trees.

Early detection is critical. An ALB infestation detected in Worcester, Mass., in August of 2008 had been growing unreported for at least 10 years. This means that ALB-infested firewood most likely traveled out of Massachusetts, potentially starting infestations in other areas of New England and upstate New York.

Report any suspected signs of ALB. To reach the ALB cooperative eradication program in New York, call 1-866-265-0301 or 1-877-STOP-ALB. For the ALB cooperative eradication program in New Jersey, call 732-815-4700 or 1-866-BEETLE1. For the ALB cooperative eradication program in Massachusetts, call 1 -866-702-9938. In Illinois, call 847-699-2424. Residents may also call the state department of agriculture or state plant health director. New England residents may also call 1-866-702-9938.

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