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Glickman Announces USDA Testing of New Lure to Help Combat Asian Longhorned Beetle / July 22, 1999 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Asian longhorned beetle shown on a cross-section of a tree.

Glickman Announces USDA Testing of New Lure to Help Combat Asian Longhorned Beetle

By Sandy Hays
July 22, 1999

Permit to Be Required for Interstate Shipment of All Invasive Plants

WASHINGTON, July 22–Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today announced that USDA researchers have developed and are now testing a new chemical attractant and lure that may help combat the pesky Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive species that has destroyed hardwood trees in Chicago and Brooklyn, New York neighborhoods.

“Our goal is to eradicate this pest,” said Glickman, addressing the first meeting of the President’s Council on Invasive Species. “And this new lure could help us set up a Roach Motel with lifetime rooms set aside specifically for Asian longhorned beetles.”

Glickman also announced that USDA will prohibit any interstate movement of invasive plants, listed in the Federal Noxious Weed Act regulations, without a permit. Currently, a permit from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is required only where a quarantine exists. The new policy, which will be published in the Federal Register soon, will better prevent the unplanned and potentially damaging spread of invasive plants into non-infested areas of the United States.

“Believe it or not: People can now order some invasive plants out of gardening catalogs and have them delivered right to their door,” said Glickman. “If we are going to fight these weeds and prevent the environmental and economic havoc they can wreak, this step is absolutely essential.”

To create the beetle lure, USDA scientists first isolated two chemicals produced by male beetles. They then made artificial copies that appear to be potent attractants for both sexes. During promising lab tests, the two synthetic pheromones were the only substances, from either plants or insects, that interested the beetles enough to encourage them to fly toward the source in a wind tunnel. Field tests in China are currently underway. If the attractant is effective and works at appropriate distances, baited traps can be used in the United States to help flush out undetected beetle infestations and monitor high-risk areas, such as import warehouses and ports, for new introductions.

The lure was discovered by entomologist Jeffrey Aldrich and chemists James E. Oliver and Aijun Zhang of the Agricultural Research Service’s Insect Chemical Ecology Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. Entomologist David Lance of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service developed the trap. A patent application was filed earlier this month for the new pheromones.

Last year, Glickman announced that USDA would ban the import of all untreated solid wood packing material from China, source of the Asian longhorned beetle. This preventive step has already reduced the number of beetle interceptions in the United States.

The President established the Council on Invasive Species in February to coordinate and intensify federal, state, and local efforts to fight non-native plants and animals. The Council, which is chaired by Glickman, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, and Commerce Secretary William Daley, will work cooperatively with state and local officials, tribes, scientists, universities, environmental groups, farm organizations, shipping interests, and the business community to create a detailed invasive species management plan.

Many ecologists believe the spread of exotic species constitutes one of the most serious, yet least appreciated, threats to biodiversity. Invasive species inflict a heavy toll on American agriculture, reducing the quality and raising the cost of food, feed, and fiber. Experts estimate that invasive plants have already infested over 100 million acres. Three million acres, an area twice the size of Delaware, is lost to invasive plants each year. The total economic impact of invasive species on the U.S. economy is estimated to be about $123 billion annually.

Scientific contact: Jeffrey Aldrich, Insect Chemical Ecology Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., (301) 504-8531, jaldrich@asrr.arsusda.gov.

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