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|Asian long-horned beetle|
|Adult Anoplophora glabripennis|
|Asian long-horned beetle|
|Adult Anoplophora glabripennis|
The Asian long-horned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), also known as the starry sky, sky beetle, or ALB, is a species native to eastern China, Japan, and Korea. This species has now been accidentally introduced into the United States, where it was first discovered in 1996, as well as Canada, Trinidad, and several countries in Europe, including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK. This beetle is believed to have been spread from Asia in solid wood packaging material.
The genus Anoplophora comprises 36 species that occur throughout Asia, with the highest diversity in tropical and subtropical regions. Anoplophora glabripennis belongs to the tribe Lamiini, subfamily Lamiinae, family Cerambycidae and order Coleoptera. The tribe Lamiini comprises eight additional genera: Goes, Hebestola, Lamia, Monochamus, Microgoes, Neoptychodes, Plagiohammus and Plectrodera. All species in these genera are xylophagous, attacking coniferous and deciduous trees.
Adult Anoplophora glabripennis are very large insects with bodies ranging from 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5–4 cm) in length and antennae which can be as long as four inches (10 cm). They are shiny black with about 20 white spots on each wing cover and long antennae conspicuously banded black and white. These beetles can fly, but generally only for short distances, which is a common limitation for Cerambycidae of their size and weight. The upper sections of the legs of the adults are whitish-blue. Anoplophora glabripennis can be distinguished from related species by the markings on the wing covers and the pattern of the antennae.
Asian long-horned beetle larvae do not pupate before they reach a critical weight. Accordingly, they may overwinter either as larvae or as pupae, and depending on the weather they generally take about one to two years to complete their life cycles. In extreme cases they might take some three years. In their overwintering phase they are inactive, a dormant condition known as diapause. They resume their life cycle in the following summer. Larvae first create a feeding gallery in the cambial region and later an apparently oval-shaped tunnel in the sapwood and heartwood. However, the oval cross-section might be largely illusory, caused by the angle of cutting through the tunnel; The emergence holes are normal to the wood surface, and look completely round. Larvae expel frass from their tunnels near the original oviposition site. Most individuals overwinter as larvae. Pupation occurs at the end of the larval tunnel usually in late spring and early summer.
Adult longevity and fecundity are influenced by conditions such as the larval host plant and temperature. Anoplophora glabripennis adult females undergo a period of obligatory maturation feeding after emergence. On emergence, females can copulate, although their ovaries are immature and feeding is necessary for ovarian maturation.
Laboratory studies have estimated the female maturation period lasts 9–15 days.
Adult males have mature spermatozoa before emergence, and feeding is necessary only to sustain their normal activity (Li & Liu, 1997). Asian long-horned beetle larvae and adults chew and excavate wood with mandibles of modest size, but great strength. This too is characteristic of the family Cerambycidae. Adults, especially males, display long antennae used to sense the sex pheromones of potential mates. The conspicuous antennae probably act as aposematic signals to predators and in sexual rivalry as well. Accordingly the main targets for predation by birds for example, are the larvae.
In the wild, Asian long-horned beetles require between one and three years to reach maturity. The adult lifespan is about 50 days for males and 66 days for females. The lifespan of Anoplophora glabripennis in captivity is not known.
In its native range, ALB infests trees primarily in the genera Acer (Sapindaceae, Maple), Populus (Salicaceae), Salix (Salicaceae, Willow), and Ulmus (Ulmaceae, Elm). In the United States, ALB has completed development on species of these genera and also Aesculus (Sapindaceae), Albizia (Fabaceae), Betula (Betulaceae), Cercidiphyllum (Cercidiphyllaceae), Fraxinus (Oleaceae), Platanus (Platanaceae), Prunus (Rosaceae), and Sorbus (Rosaceae). Acer is the most commonly infested tree genus in the United States, followed by Ulmus and Salix. In Canada, complete development has been confirmed only on Acer, Betula, Populus, and Salix, although oviposition has occurred on other tree genera. Acer is the most commonly infested tree genus in Canada. In Europe, complete development has been recorded on Acer, Aesculus, Alnus (Betulaceae), Betula, Carpinus (Betulaceae), Fagus (Fagaceae), Fraxinus, Platanus, Populus, Prunus, Salix, and Sorbus. The top five host genera infested in Europe, in decreasing order, are Acer, Betula, Salix, Aesculus, and Populus. Not all Populus species are equally susceptible to ALB attack. For example, in China, Populus species in sections Aigeiros and Tacamahaca are generally more susceptible to ALB than species in section Populus (=sect. Leuce).
Although individuals do not typically disperse very far, some may travel as far as a kilometer or two in a season in search of new host trees.
Adult Anoplophora glabripennis feed on leaves, twigs, and other plant matter. In their native habitat larvae of Anoplophora glabripennis feed on the healthy bark, phloem, and xylem of more than 24 species of hardwood trees. This causes the death of many trees. Also, it is extremely hard to kill off ALB larvae, another reason for this beetle's success.
Although the Asian long-horned beetle can fly for unbroken distances of 400 yards (370 m) or more in search of a host tree, they tend to lay eggs in the same tree from which they emerged as adults, migrating only when population density becomes too high. During the summer months, a mated adult ALB female chews some 35 to 90 individual depressions into the host tree's bark and lays an egg in each of the pits. The white, apodous eruciform larvae hatch out in 10–15 days.
The larvae are straight, with their front ends somewhat broader than the rest of the body. This is characteristic of many Cerambycid larvae, and so is the fact that instead of using legs to navigate their tunnels, they have fleshy pads on their segments. They press the pads against the tunnels walls for grip as they stretch or contract their bodies.
As they eat, they tunnel into the tree's phloem and cambium layers beneath the tree bark. After several months, they tunnel deeper into the tree's heartwood where they mature into pupae. The total process from egg to pupation takes some 10–22 months, depending on the season, the weather, and the quality of the food supplied by the tree. Generally speaking, the phloem and cambium are the best food sources, but more exposed to predators such as woodpeckers, and a lot wetter. Heartwood and even sapwood are less nutritious, but more secure, so that is where the mature larva digs its pupation chamber. They do not pupate before they have gained the necessary mass to support their adult activities and functions.
The pupal stage may last several months if pupation occurred at the start of the cold season, causing the pupa to go into diapause. The adults emerge from the pupae near the surface of the tree when the climate outside causes them to break diapause. They emerge as early as May and as late as October or November, depending on climate. The full-grown adult ALBs emerge through circular exit holes that typically measure 10–15 mm in diameter but can range from 6 to 20 mm.
Asian long-horned beetle gallery development and exit holes weaken the integrity of infested trees and can eventually result in death of severely infested trees. Larvae are considered to be the most dangerous because they tunnel in the cambial region of wood. Larvae feeding reduces wood quality. After a tree has been occupied by generations of the beetles, larval feeding can disrupt the tree's vascular tissues, encourage fungal growth, and cause structural weakness, any of which might kill the tree. Adult Asian long-horned beetles are considered to be of minor importance since they feed on twigs, foliage and occasionally on fruit-bearing trees. Asian long-horned beetle attack both healthy and stressed trees, of any size from potted to mature trees.
The Asian long-horned beetle is now one of the most destructive non-native insects in the United States; it and other wood-boring pests cause an estimated $3.5 billion in annual damages in the United States.
Mature beetles emerge from trees beginning in late May and lasting through October with a frequency peaking in July. Tree infestation can be detected by looking for exit holes 3/8 to 3/4 inches in diameter (1.5–2 cm) often in the larger branches of the crowns of infested trees. Sometimes sap can be seen oozing from the exit holes with coarse sawdust or "frass" in evidence on the ground or lower branches. Dead and dying tree limbs or branches and yellowing leaves when there has been no drought also signal ALB infestation. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research indicates this beetle can survive and reproduce in most sections of the country where suitable host trees exist.
Adult ALBs can be seen from late spring to fall, depending on the climate. The ALB was first discovered in the United States in 1996 in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Shortly after, another infestation was detected in Amityville on Long Island. Since then infestations have been found in the Islip area of Long Island in Queens and in Manhattan. In fact, several infested trees were removed around Central Park. The ALB was discovered in Chicago in 1998. An ALB infestation was detected in Hudson County, New Jersey in 2002 and in the Central New Jersey Middlesex and Union Counties in 2004. In 2008 a sizeable infestation resulting in the removal of more than 28,000 trees was discovered in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ongoing inspection of host trees within the 98 sq mi (250 km2) quarantine area of Worcester county has revealed that, since 2008, over 19,000 trees were infested; there is some evidence that the infestation may date back as far as 1997. On July 5, 2010, six infested trees were found on the grounds of the Faulkner Hospital in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, which is across the street from the Arnold Arboretum, where an infestation is poised to devastate the oldest arboretum in America. As of 2011, the ALB is considered a threat to the forestry industry in Ohio and steps are being taken to eradicate it.
Alert workers have uncovered and reported ALBs in warehouses in CA, FL, IL, IN, MA, MI, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, WA, and WI in the United States, and in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada. After an aggressive containment program and with the last confirmed sighting in 2007, Canada declared itself free of the beetle on April 5, 2013 and lifted restrictions on the movement of tree materials.
The ALB was believed to have arrived in New York City in the 1980s in wood packing material. According to Victor Mastro, the Director of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Laboratory on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the center of the infection zone was a warehouse which imported plumbing supplies from China (Smith, 2003). The infestations in Hudson County, New Jersey and on Long Island are believed to have spread from the Brooklyn point of entry. The infestations in Chicago and central New Jersey are believed to have come from a separate point of entry.
The Greenpoint infestation was first reported by Ingram Carner of Greenpoint on a Saturday in August 1996 and identified by Cornell University entomologist Richard Hoebeke on August 19. The Amityville infestation was brought, inadvertently, from Brooklyn by the Mike Ryan Tree Services, a tree pruning company, which performs work for the NYNEX telephone company.
Over 1,550 trees in Chicago have been cut down and destroyed to eradicate ALB from Chicago. In New York, over 6000 infested trees resulted in the removal of over 18,000 trees; New Jersey's infestation of over 700 trees lead to the removal and destruction of almost 23,000 trees, Infested trees continue to be discovered. 28,000 trees have been removed in Worcester, MA because of the nearly 20,000 trees confirmed to be infested with the Asian longhorned beetle. The December 12, 2008 ice storm likely resulted in significant moving of infested downed limbs because of frantic homeowners clearing debris within the infestation following the devastating ice storm. This has complicated the eradication effort. A Worcester exterminator has had a beetle in his collection since 1997, and USDA APHIS PPQ has confirmed his finding, meaning the beetle has been in Worcester for at least 13 years, giving it a very long time to move about, especially since vehicles were often parked under infested trees, giving the beetles an opportunity to drop onto cars and be transported elsewhere.
The US Federal government is trying to eradicate this species primarily for two reasons:
The steps that have been taken to eliminate the ALB include:
US customs regulations were changed on September 18, 1998 (effective December 17, 1998) to require wooden packing materials from China be chemically treated or kiln-dried to prevent further infestations of the Asian long-horned beetle from arriving. Pest inspection, new rules, and public awareness are the key steps to prevention of the spread of the Asian long-horned beetle.
Trees that are being planted to replace host trees include: Serviceberry or Shadbush, Ironwood, Southern catalpa, Turkish filbert, Ginkgo, Honey locust, Kentucky coffeetree, Tuliptree, Dawn redwood, White oak, Swamp white oak, Bur oak, English oak, Japanese lilac, Bald cypress, Basswood, and Little-leaf Linden.
In August of 2011, the Asian longhorned beetle was declared eradicated from Islip, New York. 
In March of 2013, the Asian longhorned beetle was declared eradicated from the state of New Jersey.
In April of 2013 the Government of Canada announced that the Asian long-horned beetle was eradicated from Canada. It had last been seen in 2007.
In May of 2013, the Asian longhorned beetle was declared eradicated from the boroughs of Manhattan and Staten Island in New York.
Asian long-horned beetles are detrimental to any ecosystem they inhabit. In China, approximately 40% of poplar plantations have been damaged, meaning the wood is good only for packing material. In the Ningxia Province of China, more than 50 million trees were destroyed over a three-year period because of the beetles. These beetles have the ability to significantly alter the composition of North American hardwood forests. It is estimated that nearly one-third of all trees would have to be destroyed in the United States if Anoplophora glabripennis were to spread throughout the country. The potential for widespread distribution in North America and the attack of a wide range of host trees is also very possible.
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