Plant Protection and Quarantine
Q. What is an Asian longhorned beetle?
A. The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is a large,
bullet-shaped beetle about 1 to 1.5 inches long.
Shiny and black with white spots, it has exception-
ally long antennae that are banded with black and
white. The elongated feet are black with a
whitish-blue upper surface. Although its size and
large mandibles cause it to appear threatening, the
beetle is harmless to humans and pets. In the larval
stage, the white, worm-like beetles bore into live
trees causing sap to flow from wounds and frass
(sawdust and other insect waste) to accumulate at
tree bases. Left undetected, the ALB will girdle the
vascular system of trees eventually causing the tree
to wither and die.
Q. Why should the United States be concerned
A. The ALB is a serious threat to U.S. trees. ALB
larvae bore deep into deciduous hardwood trees
such as maple, birch, horse chestnut, poplar, willow,
elm, and ash, eventually killing them. Damage from
infestations in Illinois, New Jersey, and New York
has resulted in the removal of more than 30,000
trees and costs to State and Federal governments
in excess of $269 million since the discovery of the
infestations in 1996. If the ALB were to expand
beyond the current quarantined areas of Illinois,
New Jersey, and New York, it has the potential to
wreak havoc nationwide, affecting such industries
as lumber, maple syrup, nursery, and tourism and
causing more than $41 billion in losses.
Q. How did the beetle get here?
A. ALB, which is primarily found in China and areas
of Korea and Japan, probably hitchhiked here in
solid wood packing material (SWPM), such as
crates and pallets, which accompany commodities
moving into the United States.
U.S. trade with China has increased exponen-
tially over the past decade. In 2000, imported com-
modities from China to the United States exceeded
$100 billion. As a resul