In August of 2008 a colony of the Asian long horned beetle was discovered in Worcester. The beetle is native to China and likely arrived as a stowaway in packing materials more than 10 years ago.
Surveys are currently underway to determine the extent of the infestation. As of June 2012 more than 21,000 trees have been removed from infested areas. The beetle control effort is expected to last many years.
Larvae of the beetle feed on hardwoods and it has the potential to decimate New England forests. Maples are most susceptible but it also feeds on willows, aspen, birch, ash, elm, and other hardwoods. Oak and pine are resistant.
The beetle is very large – those in Massachusetts range up to about 1.5 inches long, not including their very long black and white antennae. The body is glossy black with irregular white spots.
Signs of infestation include pencil sized diameter holes in the trunk, oozing sap, sawdust deposits, and wilting leaves.
The current area of concern includes 110 square miles – all of Worcester, Shrewsbury, Boylston, and West Boylston, and parts of Holden and Auburn. All of New England should be on guard.
If you see a suspected ALB, capture it in a jar and put it in the freezer for 24 hours to kill it. It is important that the beetle be properly identified because there are native beetles (including the pine sawyer beetle) with similar characteristics. See this link for Asian Long Horned Beetle Lookalikes.
If you have purchased or brought any firewood from Worcester in the last several years, it would be a good idea to check trees near where the wood was stored for signs of a beetle infestation.
This summer the DCR has installed 1000 Pheromone Traps around the state to detect the presence of ALB, including 60 traps in Upton State Forest. If you see a trap hanging from a tree, please do not disturb it.
Report any sightings to the Worcester Regional Field Office of the USDA, 508-799-8330 or the Massachusttes Plant Pest Hotline at 617-626-1779. Sightings can also be reported on-line here.
More information about the ALB can be found at these links: