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USDA Observes August As Tree Check Month And Asks The Public To Take 10 Minutes To Check Trees For Asian Longhorned Beetle

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Contact:
Rhonda Santos, (508) 852-8044
rhonda.j.santos@aphis.usda.gov

Suzanne Bond, (301) 851-4070
suzanne.m.bond@aphis.usda.gov

USDA Observes August As Tree Check Month And Asks The Public To Take 10 Minutes To Check Trees For Asian Longhorned Beetle

Washington, July 30, 2013 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announces August is Tree Check Month and urges the public to check trees for signs of Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). 

“August is a time of peak emergence for the beetle and is most likely when members of the public will see an adult beetle infesting trees,” states Scott Pfister, Director for USDA APHIS' Pest Management Division.  “We’re asking people to take 10 minutes and check your trees for the beetle and any signs of damage it causes.”

Checking trees on your property or in your neighborhood means looking at the host trees the beetle attacks for the beetle itself or signs of damage caused by it.  The most concerning signs are dime-sized exit holes, roughly ¼ inch or larger, perfectly round, found on the trunk and branches.  You can look for round or oval shallow scars in the bark where the females chew oviposition (egg-laying) sites, and also for frass (excrement), a sawdust-like material, on the ground at the base of the tree or at the crotches of branches.  Dead branches or canopy dieback can indicate something is wrong.  Finally, look for the beetle itself on the tree trunk, branches, on the ground, and on nearby surfaces.  With these unique characteristics, the beetle stands out from other insects:

•           Body is 1 to 1 ½ inches in length
•           Long antennae banded in black and white (longer than the insect's body)
•           Shiny, jet black body with random white spots
•           Six legs

The most important thing you can do to protect your trees is to check them regularly and encourage others to do so too.  Early detection is crucial in the fight against this invasive pest.  It can mean the difference between the six infested trees lost in Boston vs. over 30,000 trees lost in Worcester County, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, once ALB infests a tree, there is no cure for that tree, but there are things we can do to save the rest. 

USDA works closely with federal partners, states, communities and the public to combat the pest in areas where infested trees have already been found.  While eradication has been declared in Illinois (2008), New Jersey (2013) and Islip, New York (2011), the eradication efforts continue in Ohio, Massachusetts, and New York.  We all still need to stay vigilant and inspect trees regularly for signs of infestation, especially since trees in all states are at risk.

The beetle was first discovered in the United States in 1996, likely arriving in wood packing material from Asia.  It is an invasive insect that feeds on 13 different genera of hardwoods trees eventually killing them.  Maple, willow, elm, horsechestnut and birch are the host trees most preferred by the pest.  Infestations have been found in New York (1996), Illinois (1998), New Jersey (2002), Massachusetts (2008) and Ohio (2011), resulting in the removal of more than 85,000 host trees.  It threatens recreational areas, forests, and suburban and urban shade trees. Important American industries such as timber, nursery stock, maple syrup production, and tourism are also at risk.

Help stop the Asian longhorned beetle’s destruction by checking your trees and report any signs or symptoms of an infestation immediately. If you find a beetle, try to take a picture or capture it by placing the insect in a jar and freezing it.  This will help with identification.  To report a sighting or for more information, visit www.aphis.usda.gov or www.asianlonghornedbeetle.com or call the toll free hotline at 1-866-702-9938. 

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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.
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