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Asian longhorned beetle

Handbook Underway to Help Unmask New Wood-Boring Beetle

By Hank Becker
February 4, 1998

Researchers are assembling a scientific handbook on the Asian longhorned wood-boring beetle, a tree pest first found in the U.S. in 1996 in Brooklyn. If Anoplophora glabripennis spreads unchecked, it could cause millions of dollars in damage to ornamental trees and the maple syrup, lumber and tourism industries.

Agricultural Research Service entomologist Steve Lingafelter is preparing the handbook with a scientist at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. When completed, it will help pest control officials nationwide distinguish Asian pests from thousands of species of longhorned wood-boring beetles that are U.S. natives.

Most of these native beetles consume only dead wood and cause little harm. But in Brooklyn, the new pest attacked living maples, horse chestnuts and elms. The wormlike larvae bore holes that disrupt a tree's vascular tubes for water and nutrients, eventually killing it.

In March 1997, workers began cutting down, chipping and burning infested trees in Brooklyn and Amityville, New York. Cargo inspectors recently intercepted the beetles in crating materials in other states, including California, South Carolina and Canada.

The pest is native to China, Japan and Korea. It could survive and reproduce in most sections of the United States. The adult is more than an inch long and is coal-black with yellow or white spots. The beetle's long antennae have black and white bands.

Lingafelter works in Washington, D.C., at ARS' Systematic Entomology Laboratory. He made the official USDA identification of the Brooklyn beetles and regulatory agencies continue to rely on him in identifying new suspects.

The handbook will be part of a national strategy to eradicate the beetle. Experts with ARS and USDA's Forest Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service make up the team developing the strategy. An article about the beetle appears in the February issue of ARS' Agricultural Research magazine and is also on the World Wide Web at:


Scientific contact: Steve Lingafelter, ARS Systematic Entomology Laboratory, U.S. National Museum of Natural History, NHB 168, Washington, D.C., phone (202) 382-1793, fax (202) 786-9422,

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