The USDA has confirmed the presence of Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in Ohio, after a Bethel resident reported finding unusual damage in three maple trees.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture are surveying the southern portion of Bethel and the surrounding area to determine the extent of the ALB infestation. Bethel is 30 miles southeast of Cincinnati.
This discovery points to a worrisome trend of exotic, invasive pests attacking the state's forests and urban tree resources while potentially dealing yet another blow to nursery and forest-products industries, according to Ohio State University scientists. Asian longhorned beetles feed on a variety of hardwood trees, including maple, birch, elm, poplar, ash, horsechestnut and buckeye. Such feeding behavior makes ALB particularly dangerous.
"I had hoped that Asian longhorned beetle would never be detected in Ohio," said Dan Herms, an entomologist with OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and an expert on wood-boring insects. "ALB poses such a serious threat to Ohio's trees because it has a wide host range that includes maples, which are among the most abundant species in Ohio's natural and urban forests. "Unfortunately, it is inevitable that invasive insects will continue to colonize Ohio and the rest of the U.S. as global commerce increases, and because agricultural inspectors are spread thinner and thinner due to the increased volume of imports and declining state and federal budgets to support their efforts."
According to ODA, if not controlled ALB could decimate maple trees in Ohio, impacting up to $200 billion worth of standing timber, adversely affecting maple sugar processors, damaging the state's multi-billion dollar nursery industry, and diminishing Ohio's popular fall foliage season. The U.S. Forest Service estimates there are more than 7 billion board feet of maple in the state.
However, the mere discovery of ALB in Ohio could have an immediate impact on the economy.
"Whenever this type of invasive insect is discovered, there follows a cascade of quarantines and restrictions on wood and tree products," said Dave Shetlar, an urban entomologist with OSU Extension and OARDC. "This has a major influence on nursery production companies, forest-products companies, landscape tree care companies, etc. I am hoping that we have discovered this infestation early enough that we can successfully eradicate it as was done in the Chicago area."
USDA is also enlisting the help of private citizens, the nursery and landscape industries, and natural resources professionals as "beetle detectives" --encouraging them to look for signs of ALB in their neighborhoods. Details on how to become involved are available at www.beetledetectives.com.
For photos of ALB, infestation symptoms and additional information, go to www.beetlebusters.info.