Asian Longhorn Beetle on Kentucky’s doorstep

Greg Stotelmyer Kentucky News Connection

August 23, 2013

FRANKFORT - Some of Ohio’s trees are under attack, and the invasion is on Kentucky’s doorstep.

August is a peak time for the Asian Longhorn beetle, an invasive pest with no known natural predators. It’s found in five states, including southern parts of Ohio just across the river from Kentucky.

The first appearance of the beetle in Ohio came in 2011 in Clermont County, just east of Cincinnati, according to Rhonda Santos, public information officer for the Asian Longhorn Beetle Eradication Program.

“It is a killer of trees,” she said. “It attacks 13 different types of trees, all the species within. There’s a lot of industries at stake that could be impacted if our trees were missing and gone because of this insect.”

The beetle poses a threat to hardwood forests and Ohio’s $5 billion nursery industry, which employs nearly 240,000 people. Some southwest parts of the Buckeye State currently are under quarantine.

Asian Longhorn beetles prefer hardwood trees, particularly maples. Santos said they bore round holes about three-eighths of an inch in diameter into trunks and branches, creating long tunnels in which to lay their eggs. This eventually weakens and kills the trees.

“These trees become problematic for communities that have infestations,” she said. “Branches will fall off. Storm damage certainly can take down trees. Their structure is weakened.”

The beetle was successfully eradicated in Illinois and parts of New Jersey, and is being controlled in New York and Massachusetts.