Trees Tumble In Response To Asian Invader

Trees Tumble In Response To Asian Invader

An infestation of Asian longhorned beetles in southwestern Ohio has experts cutting and chipping affected trees.

The invasive Asian longhorned beetle has a team of experts scrambling to prevent its spread in southwestern Ohio. Field staff from the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of USDA have removed some 5,000 infested trees in Clermont County since the invasive pest was discovered near the village of Bethel in June.

Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order June 20 restricting the movement of hardwood logs, firewood, stumps, roots and branches out of TateTownship to help prevent the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle.

TROUBLE SIGN: piles of frass (insect waste and sawdust) are found at the base of infested trees and in branch crotches. Leaves of infested trees may also exhibit unseasonable yellowing or drooping.

The executive order is effective immediately and also restricts the sale of nursery stock, green lumber, and logs of the following trees: maples, horse chestnut, buckeye, mimosa, birch, hackberry, ash, golden raintree, katsura, sycamore, poplar, willow, mountain ash, and elms.

In all a 56 square mile area is being surveyed to determine the number of trees the number of landowners and the level of infestation from the beetle, according to Rhonda Santos, a public information officer for APHIS. She estimates the infestation is 7 years old and may have originated from pallets or other wood packing material from China.

"Infested trees look like Swiss cheese," she says. "They are riddled with holes."

The tree may be damaged anywhere from top to bottom. Staff is moving from tree to tree in the area and inspecting trees not only from the ground but from the air as well. When infested trees are found they are chipped. The action of chipping destroys the eggs which are laid in the fall and hatch in May and June.

SWISS CHEESE: These are ALB exit holes on silver maple near Bethel. Large round exit holes with smooth edges, often oozing sap, are a strong indication of ALB activity.

"Chipping destroys the egg and the matter the larvae live in," Santos says. "Often the pile is chipped twice and in a pile the chips generate enough heat to kill the eggs as well."

"ALB poses a huge threat to our trees, both rural and urban, since it attacks so many different species," says Kathy Smith, OSU forestry expert who is helping with identification of the pest. "That's why we hope to be able to eradicate it from the infestation site," which is in Clermont County in southwest Ohio. Smith, who's part of the multi-agency effort to stop the pest. "Landowners should always be concerned when new threats are on the horizon," she said. "Paying attention to what's going on with your trees is always a good thing."

The beetle was first found in trees near New York City in 1996. It has since been identified in New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusettes and Ohio. The infestation in Illinois was identified in 1998 and eradicated by 2008.

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