Ohio Invasive Species Profile: Asian Longhorned Beetle

Closeup of Asian longhorned beetle

Editor: National Invasive Species Awareness Week is March 3-8.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As part of National Invasive Species Awareness Week March 3-8, here are some facts and figures on the Asian longhorned beetle, one of Ohio’s newest invasive species:

  • What it is: Big, shiny-black beetle with white spots. Has very long antennae, hence its name, which are black with white stripes. Its body is about the size of an almond. Total length, with antennae extended, can be nearly as long as a finger.
  • Where it’s from: Japan, Korea, southern China.
  • What it does: Adult females lay their eggs in the bark of many kinds of hardwood trees, including maple, horsechestnut, buckeye, poplar, willow, elm, birch, London plane tree, sycamore and others. (Both healthy and stressed trees may fall victim.) The larvae hatch, then burrow into the trunk. Their tunnels cut the essential cambium layer in the trunk, which normally transports water and nutrients to and from the roots and leaves. The tree eventually dies.

Video (2:18): Dan Kenny discusses the Asian longhorned beetle in a video news release by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Kenny is an agricultural inspection administrator with the department, which is part of a coalition of groups sponsoring the observance of National Invasive Species Awareness Week in Ohio.

  • Impact: At risk are Ohio’s valuable hardwood forests, whose standing maple timber alone is worth $2.5 billion. Also threatened: The state’s $5 billion nursery industry, which provides jobs for about 240,000 people.
  • Where it’s at in Ohio: Parts of Clermont County in southwest Ohio. There’s currently about a 60-square-mile quarantine zone around the infested area.
  • Elsewhere in the U.S.: In four other states besides Ohio. Has been successfully eradicated in Illinois and parts of New Jersey. Is being controlled in New York and Massachusetts.
  • How it got here: Apparently in solid wood packing or crating materials on a U.S.-bound cargo ship from China. First found in New York City in 1996.
  • 3 odd facts: It spends about nine months of the year inside the tree so is nearly impossible to kill with insecticides. Can fly up to 400 yards but typically doesn’t leave its host tree; studies in China show infestations usually spread less than 1,000 feet a year. Produces new adults every year; most other longhorned beetle species produce new adults only every two to four years.
  • Quote: “The big thing is that unlike the emerald ash borer, for instance, which attacks just a single type of tree (ash trees), the Asian longhorned beetle can use 13 different kinds of trees as its host. So it’s not such a narrow pest. It has a much broader impact. It can be eradicated, however. We have that opportunity if we can get ahead of it before it gets settled.” -- Kathy Smith, director of Ohio State University Extension’s Ohio Woodland Stewards Program
  • Sources: Ohio Department of Agriculture Web page; Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry Web page.

A statewide coalition of natural resource-related groups, including OSU Extension and Ohio Sea Grant at Ohio State University, is sponsoring the observance of National Invasive Species Awareness Week in Ohio. A press release about the week and the coalition is at http://go.osu.edu/SZ3.

Sponsoring the week nationally is the National Invasive Species Council.

OSU Extension is the statewide outreach arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

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CFAES News Team
For more information, contact: 

Kathy Smith, OSU Extension