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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release: August 15, 2008
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402

Invasive Insect Destroys Hardwood Trees and Has Been Found in Worcester, MA

PROVIDENCE -The Department of Environmental Management is asking nurserymen, commercial pesticide applicators, arborists, and other tree health specialists to notify the Department if they observe any insects resembling the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) or see symptoms or damage related to this beetle in Rhode Island.

An invasive insect that is native to China and other areas of eastern Asia, the ALB was recently discovered in Worcester, MA. The insect is a serious threat to many species of deciduous hardwood trees. The ALB can cause widespread mortality of poplar, willow, elm and maple trees. In addition, nursery stock, logs, green lumber, firewood, stumps, roots, branches, and wood debris of a half-inch or more in diameter are subject to infestation. The ALB was first discovered in the United States in 1996 in Brooklyn, New York and has also been found in New Jersey and Chicago. It is believed that the beetle was brought to the US in wooden packing material used in cargo shipments from China.

The beetle is large, ranging from 0.75 – 1.25 inches in length with very long black and white antennae. The body is glossy black with irregular white spots. The distinctive antennae that give the beetle its common name are as long as the body itself in females, and almost twice the body length in males. Adult ALB emerge from late spring to early fall and feed on tree bark and tender twigs. During its larval stage, the ALB bores deep in the tree's heartwood, where it feeds on the tree's nutrients. This tunneling damages and eventually kills the tree. The adult ALB then chews its way out of the tree the next summer, leaving perfectly round exit holes that are approximately 1 cm (3/8") in diameter.

Signs of ALB infestation include perfectly round, dime-sized exit holes; frass, a sawdust-like material comprised of tree shaving and insect waste; and oozing sap. Dead and dying tree limbs or branches and yellowing leaves in areas where there has been no drought may also be a sign of ALB. Research indicates this beetle can survive and reproduce in most sections of the country where suitable host trees exist.

No Evidence of ALB in Rhode Island

The Department added ALB to the list of insects it looks for during routine tree pest surveys in 1999. This invasive beetle has not been detected in Rhode Island through routine field surveys conducted by DEM's forest health program. DEM Divisions of Agriculture and Forest Environment will provide assistance to Massachusetts in its efforts to eradicate the ALB by providing ground support for the intensive tree survey it is conducting in the affected area. This will allow DEM staff to aquire hands-on experience with the intensive survey techniques and eradication protocol used in responding to an ALB infestation. DEM will continue to monitor actions in Massachusetts and confer with the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine (APHIS), the US Forest Service, and state and private forestry officials on the collection of data related to the ALB infestation in Worcester.

ALB typically does not spread quickly on its own, but it can easily be inadvertently transported in untreated firewood and other forest products. All Rhode Island residents are reminded to purchase firewood from local sources and not transport firewood from out of state. Firewood brought into Rhode Island from infested areas can easily bring along unwanted hitch hikers like ALB and other harmful forest pests.

Given the close proximity to Worcester, DEM is sending informational materials about the ALB to members of the RI Nurserymen and Landscape Association, RI Tree Council, URI Master Gardeners, licensed arborists, tree wardens, commercial pesticide applicators, and others in the plant health and tree care industries. In cooperation with the Department's Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey program, the Division of Agriculture asks to be notified of any insect suspects or damage symptoms related to the ALB. If you think you have seen this insect, please do not disturb infested trees or move any wood that you think could be affected by this pest. To report suspected ALB sightings or damage, contact Liz Lopes-Duguay, senior environmental scientist in the Division of Agriculture at 222-2781 ext. 4510 or 949-1770, or via email her at Residents can also report sightings to APHIS via their website at


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