Longhorn beetle could Be state’s next threat

We might have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire; we have a new danger to our trees.

Having started on the road to recovery from the emerald ash borer, we can now turn our attention to the Asian longhorn beetle (ALB). If you thought Riley Park and the city look devastated, just wait.

Let me start off by saying that it has not been found in Indiana yet. The ALB came from Asia, most likely China, Korea and Japan, hitchhiking in wooden packing crates, ending up at various seaports.

Chicago and Clermont County in Ohio is as close as it has come to us so far.

Chicago found it in 1996, and it was reported as eradicated by 2003. It actually was first found in Brooklyn, New York, also in 1996, and has affected trees in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Chicago and Toronto.

In Worchester, Massachusetts, they ended up cutting down more than 25,000 trees in hopes of keeping it from spreading throughout New England. This little bug has done quite a bit of damage so far.

In order to identify this critter, look for the following: a shiny black body with white spots, 1 to 1½ inches long, six legs, feet a metallic blue color and long antennae with white bands.

It does have a lookalike in the white-spotted sawyer; however, that one has a single white spot between the tops of its wings.

If you find one, catch it, freeze it, then take it to our local Purdue Extension Office. They can handle it from there.

It is also a good idea to call the DNR at 317-232-4620 and report the bug.

Look for the signs that you have an infected tree: Round exit holes, about the size of a dime. Oval depressions — these are places that the female chews out to lay her egg. She can lay up to 90 per tree. Weeping sap can help identify these places.

Look for what is called Frass. This is an accumulation of sawdust-like material that the larva pushes out onto the ground or on limbs. If you cut a tree down, look for tunneling. The larva tunnels into the growing layer (phloem and cambium) then into the woody tissue (xylem). There will be an unseasonable yellowing or the dropping of leaves.

These bugs are active in during summer and early fall; not only can they be seen on trunks and branches but also on cars, sidewalks, patio furniture and about anything else that is outside. They can fly several hundred feet in a single flight but normally fly only 15 to 22 feet to a new host tree.

By now you may be asking yourself, “What trees do they go after?”

Better sit down for this one.

The ones they like best are; ash, birch, elm, golden raintree, horse chestnut, maple (red, silver and sugar), poplar, willow, hackberry and Ohio buckeye. Not very picky bugs, are they?

What can you do to prevent the spread of the beetle? Do not move firewood from one place to another; this is the most common way of spreading the ALB.

What can be done if you find an affected tree in your yard or if we find an infected tree in one of the parks? The answer is short and bittersweet — we can do nothing. The only thing that can be done now is to cut down and destroy the infected tree.

That’s it. There is no preventive chemical found yet that will prevent them from invading a tree or kill them once established.

But the search goes on for something to use in this battle.

Now, if that’s not enough to keep you up at night consider this: There is other invasive stuff that Indiana is trying to find and remove. Among these are sea lampreys (in Lake Michigan), Asian carp, wild hogs, zebra mussels, mute swans and gypsy moths.

Author photo
Noelle Steele is editor of the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3232 or nsteele@greenfieldreporter.com.