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Asian Longhorned Beetle

Asian Longhorned Beetle

This is a guest blog post from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.

Invasive species of insects are threatening the health of Massachusetts’ forests. Two species in particular, the Asian Longhorned Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer — which originally hitchhiked to North America in the wood used to build shipping crates and pallets that came from Asia — are spread when infested wood, including firewood, cut wood, or landscaping debris is moved or relocated.

Massachusetts residents can help our state’s trees by learning how to spot these bugs and the signs that they’ve infested your backyard.

Check out forest pest “cheat sheets” from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) and learn how to report suspicious tree damage or insect finds.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

The Asian Longhorned Beetle is an invasive insect that kills deciduous tree species like maple, birch, and willow. It is currently found in Worcester and its surrounding towns — a small infestation of this pest was eradicated from Boston in 2014. It kills trees when its larvae chew through the wood, cutting off water and nutrients and weakening the tree’s ability to withstand stress from wind and storms.

What to Look for: Physical Appearance

Exit Hole in Tree from Asian Longhorned Beetle

Exit hole in tree from Asian Longhorned Beetle

  • Shiny black body with bright white spots
  • Black-and-white striped antennae

What to Look for: Signs on Trees

  • Perfectly round exit holes, about the size of a dime, in maple, birch, and other hardwood trees (but not oak)
  • Oval egg-laying sites in the bark of host trees
  • Frass, or sawdust-like excrement, accumulating on branches or at the base of trees

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer, as its name suggests, is an invasive species that attacks ash trees. This beetle is currently found in Berkshire, Essex, and Suffolk Counties. Emerald Ash Borer larvae feed on the tissue underneath the bark of the tree, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients and eventually killing the tree, often in just a few years.

What to Look For: Physical Appearance

S-shaped galleries left in tree trunk by Emerald Ash Borer larvae

S-shaped Galleries Left in Tree Trunk by Emerald Ash Borer Larvae

  • Small beetles that are a bright, metallic green

What to Look For: Signs on Trees

  • Small, D-shaped exit holes in the bark of trees
  • Serpentine (S-shaped) galleries under the bark, created as the larvae feed
  • “Blonding” of the trunk of the tree, created as woodpeckers strip the bark of larvae-infested trees in search of food, leaving behind light-colored areas

Report Suspicious Sightings

If you think you’ve spotted an infested tree in your backyard or neighborhood, MDAR needs your help! Here’s what to do:

By working together, MDAR and Massachusetts residents can reduce invasive species and preserve forests and trees in Massachusetts.

Have you seen invasive species in your neck of the woods? Tell us by tweeting @MassPests or commenting below.

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