No one knows how the beetles established themselves in central Massachusetts, but the unexpected appearance demonstrates how rapidly and randomly the infestation can spread.
“Based on the destruction of trees, the extensive infestation was at least five years old. We will expand our survey activities to the northern parts of the state,” said state entomologist Kirby C. Stafford III.
“The discovery is certainly a concern,” said Christopher Martin, director of forestry with the state Department of Environmental Protection. “The close proximity to Connecticut definitely places our forests at risk.”
Stafford and colleagues at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, se well as the DEP, had been keeping an eye on Fairfield County after Asian longhorns turned up in New York State, about 25 miles from Greenwich.
Stafford said he is encouraging people to report suspicious beetles and tree damage.
However, do not mail live beetles or bring them to the experiment station, he said. They could chew through shipping materials and containers, and the last thing Stafford wants is Asian longhorn beetles establishing infestations in New Haven.
A good digital photo should suffice. Otherwise, kill the suspect beetle by dropping it into a glass container or alcohol, or putting it in a glass bottle and leaving it in the freezer for two days, Stafford said.
Martin said residents should purchase firewood from local sources and not transport firewood from out of state, which could contain Asian longhorns, emerald ash borer, sudden oak death, and other sylvan killers.
The Asian longhorn arrived in the U.S. as a stowaway from China in the early 1990s, probably in wooden pallets or packing crates. The insects are a glistening black, with white spots and banded black-and-white antennae. They are about 1 inch long.
The beetles are of special concern because they kill many species of hardwood, including maples, alders, birches, poplars and willows.
Once longhorn larvae start to tunnel through tree trunks there is no way to attack them with insecticide. The only control option is to cut down infested trees, and surrounding trees that might be infested, reduce them to chips, then either incinerate or bury the chips.
Stafford said the experiment station receives many reports of Asian longhorn beetles. Most of the reported insects are actually white spotted sawyer beetles, a slightly smaller indigenous beetle that looks similar.
Asian longhorns create dime-sized holes when they emerge from trees as adults. Adults will be out between now and October. Females will lay up to 160 eggs, which will hatch in 10 to 15 days and bore into the tree.============================================
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