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The Asian Longhorned Beetle at close range
The Asian Longhorned Beetle
By Howard Stanley
In China, the Starry Sky Beetle is considered a major pest of hardwood trees
in many parts of the country. Based on the Chinese distribution and the recent
infestations in the U.S., it is estimated the beetle would survive well in
the hardwood forests of southern Canada.
The Asian Long-horned Beetle (ALHB) or Starry Sky Beetle (Anoplophora
glabripennis) is native to China, Korea and Japan. This insect is a pest
- Mountain Ash
- Silk Tree
- Sycamore a.k.a. London Plane Tree
In China, it primarily attacks trunks and branches of healthy or weakened
hardwood trees - and over the last few years, it has been intercepted on import
shipments of cargo from Asia. It has been associated with non-manufactured
wood packing material, such as pallets, spools and loose wood dunnage.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed the ALHB was found
in 2003 in the area bordering the Ontario cities of Toronto and Vaughan.
While the insect presents no threat to public health, it does pose a significant
risk to Canada's trees and forests.
The beetle kills trees when its larvae feed within trunks and limbs, riddling
them with holes. There are no natural controls in North America that
would prevent the beetle's spread.
Tree surveys have determined the central area of infestation to be in a
primarily industrial area, roughly bordered by Hwy. 407, Hwy. 400, Finch
Ave. W. and Milvan Drive in Woodbridge and Toronto. Survey crews have also
found satellite infestations in the Ansley Grove Road area of Woodbridge,
Beechwood Cemetery and the Thistletown area of Toronto. The beetle's most
common means of travel is the movement of infested firewood.
CFIA implemented an aggressive campaign to control and eradicate this
unwanted pest, with the full co-operation of the City of Vaughan, the City
of Toronto and other federal, provincial and municipal partners. In addition
Regulated Area was established by Ministerial Order. The movement of live
host material and firewood is prohibited from this area. Please refer to these
Within North America, there are also currently two localized, quarantined
populations in the U.S., in New York and Illinois. These populations are already
under a continuing eradication program.
The eradication process
In Ontario, eradication is ongoing. More than 160 square kilometres
of the Toronto and Vaughan urban forest have been surveyed, including individual
public and private trees, ravines and wood lots. Surveys have been conducted
from the ground, by tree climbers and/or bucket truck teams.
There are four levels of activities associated with the ALHB survey and
Crews are evaluating the characteristics of the pest population, as well
as making tree identifications. This determines the ALHB dispersal and the
impact on host tree material in the containment area. This information is
then used to establish and confirm the ALHB Regulated Zone boundaries. Survey
crews also follow up on referral calls from the public.
2. Tree removal/disposal
Crews are removing trees that have been identified and tagged by survey
staff due to infestation. Trees removed from public and private property
that are suitable host trees, but not infested, are chipped on-site. Trees
that are infested are transported to a designated CFIA site for research
assessment and disposal.
Evaluation of tree material is carried out, for the purpose of collecting
valuable scientific data and creating a body of knowledge for planned activities.
For example, the evaluation can help develop the eradication approach for
the satellite areas and generate data for the international science community.
Crews responsible for chipping and tub grinding turn the ALHB-infested trees
into safe, recyclable material.
To reduce the risk of spreading the beetle, residents and hired landscape
maintenance companies or property management companies have been asked not
to move any tree materials-including nursery stock, firewood and fallen or
pruned branches-from the infested area.
Detail on the beetle's biology:
The egg, larva, or pupa can overwinter. Young adults emerge from infested
trees in May and may fly several hundred meters to search for a host. However,
they tend to attack the same tree from which they emerged. Adults are active
from early-summer to mid-fall. They feed on the bark of twigs periodically
throughout the mating and egg-laying period. On sunny days the adult beetles
are most active from mid-morning to early-afternoon. They usually rest in
the canopy on cloudy days. In preparation for egg-laying, females chew oval
grooves in the bark in which they lay one egg about 5-7 millimetres in length.
On average, each female will live 40 days and during that period will lay
about 25-40 eggs - some info exists that 200 may be laid on the rare
occasion. Eggs hatch in one to two weeks. Young larvae begin feeding in the
phloem tissue and as they mature they migrate into the wood, creating tunnels
as they feed. Larvae become pupae, then adults, in the tunnels in summer.
The new adults exit the tree through large round holes about 10-15 millimetres
Signs of infestation:
1. Oval wounds in the bark, approximately 10-15 millimetres across (the
result of adult females chewing a groove in the bark into which she will
lay a egg). The wounds may occur anywhere on the tree, including branches,
trunk, and exposed roots.
2. Dripping sap is often seen to be flowing from the egg-laying wounds.
3. Large, round holes (10-15 millimetres in diameter), created by the newly
4. Piles of coarse sawdust around the base of the tree and in branch axils.
The adults are large bluish-black beetles (2.5 to 3.5 centimetres in length)
with white spots and very long antennae. The larvae and pupae are normally
inside the tree within the larval tunnels. Full grown larvae can reach 50
millimetres in length.
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