August has been designated as Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Awareness Month. This is an invasive insect introduced from Asia that infests several different types of trees that commonly grow in West Virginia including maples, poplars, willows, ash, elm, birch and mimosa. ALB infestation will threaten timber, nursery stock, shade trees and maple syrup production in our state.
“With the recent find in Ohio, it is important that we are on the lookout for ALB,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass. “ALB has always been found first by concerned citizens. Their reports have been vital in making eradication efforts in other states successful.”
The ALB beetle is 1 to 1½ inches long with distinctively banded white and black antennae that are longer than the body. The beetle is shiny, jet black and has distinctive white spots on its back. For more information on ALB, visit http://www.beetlebusters.info
There are also many signs that ALB is present: shallow divits in the bark where the eggs are laid; sap seeping from wounds in the tree; dime-sized (¼” or larger), perfectly round exit holes in the tree; sawdust-like materials called frass on the ground and the branches.
“We hope ALB Awareness Month encourages folks to familiarize themselves with this beetle, the symptoms of its presence and to get out and check their trees,” said Forest Entomologist Tim Tomon. “If you see ALB, please call the West Virginia Department of Agriculture at 304-558-2212.”
ALB probably travelled to the United States inside solid wood packing material. However, several outbreaks are also known to have occurred due to the movement of firewood from infested areas to those where susceptible host material was available. Outbreaks in Illinois, New York and New Jersey were either eradicated or are believed to be on the way to eradication.
This changed in 2008, when a major outbreak was discovered in Worcester, Mass. To date, attempts to battle this pest have cost $50 million and required the removal of approximately 100,000 trees.
This summer, a new infestation was discovered in Bethel, Oh., near Cincinnati. This outbreak is approximately 90 miles from the West Virginia border. Since the discovery of this outbreak in June, more than 17,000 trees have been surveyed and more than 400 infested trees have been found.
Buddy Davidson, Communications Officer
304-558-3708; 304-541-5932 (cell)