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USDA Urges Residents to be on the Lookout for the Asian Longhorned Beetle

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Contact:
Rhonda Santos (508) 852-8044
Suzanne Bond (301) 734-5175

Beetles Expected to Emerge in July

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2010 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is asking for your help in detecting and preventing the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB, Anoplophora glabripennis), a serious pest of hardwood trees.

Federal, state and local partners are currently working to eradicate active Asian longhorned beetle infestations in portions of Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. Eradication has been declared from infestations in Illinois and Hudson County, N.J. While the ALB does not pose a risk to human health, it is extremely dangerous to hardwood trees. ALB is known to attack and kill healthy maple trees, as well as ash, birch, elm, European mountain ash, hackberry, horsechestnut, katsura, London plane tree, mimosa, poplar and willow. To date, the beetle has caused the destruction of over 69,000 hardwood trees in the United States alone.

"July is the time of year when adult beetles are emerging from a winter spent growing and developing deep inside the hardwood tree they've infested, and they are easy to see if you know 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 the signs of an ALB infestation and monitor their hardwood trees and surrounding areas for this destructive pest.”

The Asian longhorned beetle is a large beetle. Its body is approximately 1 to 1-1/2 inches long and is shiny black with random white spots. Its antennae, which are longer than the insect's body, are banded black and white, and it has six legs. Its feet are black and sometimes appear with a bluish tint. Adult beetles typically first appear during the month of July and will continue to be present throughout the summer and into the early fall months. ALB can be found anywhere, including on trees, benches, cars, patios and outdoor furniture, sides of houses and sidewalks, etc.

The beetle can also be found and unknowingly transported in firewood. Cutting a tree into firewood will not kill the ALB developing inside it, and adult beetles can still emerge from the wood, thereby spreading an ALB infestation to new areas. Firewood from ALB regulated areas must be used within the regulated area. If you see signs of ALB infestation on your firewood, please call USDA or your state department of agriculture immediately. Firewood also presents a very real threat to the Nation's forests, not only from the ALB, but other invasive species, such as the emerald ash borer (EAB), as well. APHIS is asking residents not to move firewood and to purchase firewood locally from the area where it will be burned.

If you see the Asian longhorned beetle, or other signs of an ALB infestation, or if you have questions about ALB control and eradication efforts, please call your local APHIS state plant health director, your state department of agriculture or the ALB cooperative eradication program in your state. For residents in New England, to reach the ALB cooperative eradication program in Massachusetts, call (866) 702-9938. For the ALB cooperative eradication program in New York, call (866) 265-0301 or 877-STOP-ALB. For the ALB cooperative eradication program in New Jersey, call 1-866-233-8531 or 866-BEETLE1.

If you find an ALB, you can help to stop the spread by capturing it, placing the insect in a jar and freezing it - this will preserve the insect for identification. Early detection of ALB infestations is very important because it can limit an infested area and the number of trees destroyed. More information about the ALB can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov and click on “Asian Longhorned Beetle” under the “Hot Issues” heading. You may also logon to www.beetlebusters.info

Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet and through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Go to the APHIS news release page at www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom and click on the RSS feed link. To sign up to receive APHIS releases automatically, send an e-mail message to lyris@mdrdlyriss10.aphis.usda.gov and leave the subject blank. In the message, type subscribe press_releases.

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