If your trees are still standing after this week’s derecho, Iowans are asked to check those trees and be on the lookout for the Asian longhorned beetle as August is when it emerges from inside trees where it burrows.
Samantha Simon, an invasive species coordinator with the U.S.D.A., says the destructive bug is not native to the U.S. and has few-to-no natural predators.
“It likes to attack our 12 types of hardwood trees, including maples, elms, birches, and willows,” Simon says. “Once a tree has the beetle, the infested tree doesn’t recover and they die. We’re looking for the public’s help to identify this beetle and to help us eradicate it.”
Watching for the beetle and the damage it causes is one way for homeowners to protect their own trees. She notes, it’s a distinctive creature. “It measures one to one-and-a-half inches in length,” Simon says. “Its body is black with white spots and its antenna are banded in black and white. It sounds kind of gross but it’s actually really cute.”
People can unknowingly spread Asian longhorned beetles by moving firewood, since they can hide inside wood. She asks that Iowans familiarize themselves with the pest and spend five minutes checking their trees for signs of them.
“We ask that people take a photo or if they can capture it, if it’s alive, they can put it in a container and put it in the freezer for us,” Simon says. “It’s really important that they report it to U.S.D.A. and they can do that online at Asianlonghornedbeetle.com.”
You can also call the agency’s hotline: 866-702-9938. The beetle was first spotted in the U.S. in New York in 1996 and spread far quite quickly. It’s one of a group of invasive pests and plant diseases that costs the nation some 40-billion dollars each year in losses to trees, plants, and crops.