Check your trees for invasive pests

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LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding residents to spend 10 minutes to walk around your yard or neighborhood and inspect your trees.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, August Is Tree Check Month.

The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is on Michigan’s invasive species watch list because it poses an immediate or potential threat to the state’s economy, environment, or human health.

“Public participation is the key to early detection,” said Rob Miller, invasive species prevention and response specialist with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Every known infestation of Asian longhorned beetle in the U.S. was discovered and reported by a member of the public who knew what to look for and how to report it.”

This beetle affects many common deciduous trees. On trees look for beetle exit holes in the trunk or branches as well as shallow chew marks in the bark, where the beetle lays its egg. Trees will also have sawdust-like material at the base of the tree, or where branches meet the trunk.

A good preventative measure is to clean up dead branches on otherwise leafy trees.

“ALB likely arrived hidden in untreated wood packaging material like pallets and crates from China or Korea, before we had international standards for treating this material to prevent the spread of insects,” said USDA’s Asian longhorned beetle national policy manager Paul Chaloux. “The beetle feeds on numerous hardwood species, especially maple, but also ash, birch, elm, poplar and willow, among others.”

To date, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has been successful in eradicating the beetle from all but four locations in the U.S. However, eradication has both financial and environmental costs. According to the USDA, over $750 million has been spent on the Asian longhorned beetle eradication program in the last 22 years, and at least 180,000 trees have been removed from infested neighborhoods and counties.

The Asian longhorned beetle is a shiny black beetle with white spots and white striped antennae. They are about the size of a dime to 1.5 inches.

Several beetles and bugs native to Michigan often are mistaken for the Asian longhorned beetle.

  • The white-spotted pine sawyer has a distinctive white spot below the base of its head – between its wings – and is brownish in color.
  • The cottonwood borer is about the same size as the Asian longhorned beetle and is also black and white, but has a pattern of single, broad black stripes down each wing, and its antennae are all dark.
  • The northeastern pine sawyer reaches up to 2 inches in length, has very long antennae and is gray in color.
  • The eastern eyed click beetle has distinctive eye circles on the back of its head. It rolls over when threatened, then clicks and makes a flipping movement to get back on its feet.

If you see signs of Asian longhorned beetle damage, or the beetle itself, make a note of what was found and where as well as taking a photo if possible.

Try to capture the insect and place it in a container as well as freeze it. Freezing it will preserve it for easier identification.

Report findings as soon as possible to the U.S. Department of Agriculture by calling 866-702-9938 or by completing an online form.

Reports can also be made to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 800-292-3939.

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