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Asian longhorn beetle in North America

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Formerly known as the Forest Research Institute, Scion has been a leader in research relating to forest health for over 50 years. The Rotorua-based Crown Research Institute continues to provide science that will protect all forests from damage caused by insect pests, pathogens and weeds. The information presented below arises from these research activities.

From Forest Health News No. 106, April 2001.

An essential part of effective biosecurity is an awareness of pest incursions and eradication attempts taking place in other parts of the world. A comparatively recent example of such an event was the arrival of the Asian longhom beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) in North America. Should this high-profile pest reach New Zealand it would place many amenity trees at risk and possibly also threaten indigenous forests. The larvae of the Asian longhorn beetle are wood borers that attack a wide variety of hardwood trees. Their preferred hosts are maples, horse chestnuts, elms, poplars, willows, and birches, and heavy infestation can result in tree death. The Asian longhorn beetle is native to China and Korea where major economic losses occur. Nearly 50% of China's extensive poplar plantations have been attacked, and millions of infested forest and urban trees have been felled as a control measure. No wonder that alarm bells rang when the pest was discovered in parts of New York City in 1996. Two years later it appeared at a second location, in Chicago, apparently having been carried there in wooden packing material (FHNews 91: 1-2, Nov 1999). It has been estimated that up to 30% of the forest cover and 25% of street and amenity trees could be lost in the United States if the beetle continues to spread. Efforts to eradicate the pest are now in the fifth year. A research programme currently being conducted by the US Forest Service and several universities is investigating methods of controlling Asian longhorn beetle should the eradication attempts fail. An overview of this activity was presented last December at a conference held in conjunction with the joint annual meeting of the Entomological Societies of America and Canada in Montreal, Canada. The meeting reviewed research on detection, monitoring, biological and insecticide control, and beetle behaviour. In addition to the more standard approaches, the Americans are employing technology developed for spying on enemy submarines to detect beetle larvae by listening to the sounds they make chewing wood while inside the tree. Normally an infestation is detected only after the appearance of comparatively large emergence holes (> 10 mm diameter), by which time the beetles have already emerged and dispersed to attack new trees. Studies of Asian longhorn beetle dispersal in China are being used to develop a model to determine the rate of spread. In joint research between American and Chinese scientists possible attractants are being tested for the development of insect traps. However, this research has suffered as a result of Chinese control operations in which the public has been recruited and rewarded for the number of beetles collected. It appears that some individuals boosted their catch by taking beetles from the research traps.

Despite the eradication campaigns in New York and Chicago Asian longhorn beetle continues to be found at new sites. When scientists at the meeting were asked if they believed the beetle would eventually be eradicated, there was little optimism. This highlights the need for rigorous quarantine procedures to avoid the establishment of pests such as this in New Zealand.

Additional information is available at:

Eckehard Brockerhoff, Forest Research


This information is intended for general interest only. It is not intended to be a substitute for specific specialist advice on any matter and should not be relied on for that purpose. Scion will not be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, consequential or exemplary damages, loss of profits, or any other intangible losses that result from using the information provided on this site.
(Scion is the trading name of the New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited.)


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