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ALB Survey Protocol

The Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program Survey Protocols

When one or more Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infestation points are identified in an area, the survey procedures listed below will be implemented. The host tree identified as infested will serve as the epicenter, and all survey protocols will originate from that point.

  • APHIS conducts surveys to:
    Determine the scope of the infestation 
  • Establish the quarantine area
  • Determine that ALB has not spread outside of the established quarantine area and, if it has, to expand the quarantine area 
  • Determine when to release an area from quarantine
    The types of surveys conducted in an area depend on the scope of the infestation, and the circumstances surrounding the infestation.  Below is a general description of surveys; however, there is flexibility in the survey protocols.  The number of times inspectors survey an area depends on forest and host composition, the degree of infestation, and the time it takes between survey cycles.  The control strategy employed in an area (e.g., removal and/or treatment of all host trees in an area) will impact the number of survey cycles.

Initial Survey
The discovery of ALB triggers an initial survey to determine the scope of the infestation.  The intention of this survey is to quickly understand the general area of infestation, and determine the type of response needed in terms of resources and quarantine enactment.  This survey establishes the regulated quarantine boundary.

Core Survey (Level 1)
The Core Survey (Level 1) establishes the center of an infestation and is defined as a ½-mile radius around any infested tree, which exhibits signs of ALB oviposition sites and/or exit holes. All preferred host trees are surveyed within Level 1.  Sweet birch (Betula lenta), Ash (Fraxinus), Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) and American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) are not considered preferred hosts, therefore; these trees are not surveyed. If additional infestations are found, the core area will be extended by a ½ mile from the outermost find.

Buffer Survey (Level 2)
The Buffer Survey (Level 2) establishes the boundary of an infestation and is defined as an additional 1-mile expansion beyond the boundary of the Core Survey (Level 1).  This results in surveying 1.5 miles from the point of infestation. Level 2 Survey areas should be expanded to a minimum of 2.5 miles from areas that are or were centers of high populations, as denoted by the presence of a cluster of trees with many exit holes or one or more trees with >100 exit holes.

Buffer Surveys focus on maples species (Acer) in areas where they are present.  Additional preferred hosts (Aesculus, Betula, Populus, Salix, Ulmus) are surveyed when maples are not present or within 100 yards.

High Risk Site Survey (Level 3)
High risk site surveys (Level 3) are conducted to identify, and inspect, high-risk locations where potentially infested host material may have been transported, stored, processed, or sold. Site inspections primarily focus on maples when they are present. High risk sites include, but are not limited to:

  • Landscape and nursery businesses
  • Tree and lawn care companies
  • Firewood producers and transporters
  • State and local parks/forestry departments
  • Local utility and sanitation services
  • Parks and campsites
  • Landfills and disposal sites
  • Import facilities that receive  or have received high risk cargo from known source countries
  • Stone dealers, or stone cutting facilities such as monument/headstone companies near infestations

Secondary Surveys
After all trees within the Level 1 and Level 2 boundaries have been surveyed during the first survey cycle, secondary surveys are conducted within the same boundaries. Secondary inspections are crucial to detecting residual ALB infestations since they tend to develop slowly and become easily visible and detectable over time.  Secondary surveys continue until a final cycle confirms there are no infested trees.  Completion of a final survey is dependent on several factors, including but not limited to:

  • Size and scope of the original infestation
  • ALB lifecycle and movement models
  • Programmatic and logistic requirements
  • Environmental conditions

To declare eradication, a final round of negative survey is required, control activities and all necessary secondary surveys have also been completed. Four (4) years is the minimum amount of time between an initial detection and a final survey cycle is completed. 

When there is more than a four (4) year survey lapse prior to the final cycle, an interim survey cycle may be needed.

General Survey Information
The following information applies to all of the surveys listed above. Staff must:

  • Be able to recognize, and identify ALB host trees using multiple identification factors (leaf, twig/bud, bark) throughout the year
  • Be able to recognize ALB in its different life stages
  • Wear visible identification and have official badges available at all times
  • Work in teams of two or more
  • Have a cell phone or 2-way radio communication available
  • Have all appropriate inspection tools, data recording devices, and/or paper records in the field
  • Notify residents about tree inspections when arriving on site at private properties
  • Reach out to the general public and raise awareness of ALB and its effects on the environment
  • Be safe at all times! If a situation, environment, or individual appears unsafe or threatening discontinue work and get to safety

Survey data denotes the level of ALB damage accordingly:

  • Level A is egg-sites only
  • Level B is less than 10 exit holes
  • Level C is 10-100 exit holes
  • Level D is more than 100 exit holes.

Quality Assurance
A Quality Assurance (QA) program consisting of random and targeted re-survey, pseudo ALB damage placement, field monitoring, training and testing must be implemented in order to: 

  • Evaluate the quality of  ALB surveys 
  • Provide a measurable performance standard
  • Provide feedback and necessary training to survey personnel
  • Ensure that surveys are thorough and accurate


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