Who Made the Hole? Don't Let ALB Fool You
The similarity between a sugaring tap hole and the Asian longhorned beetle’s exit hole is uncanny.
Don’t be fooled. This is no tap hole!
It is made by something out of a sugarmaker’s worst nightmare—the Asian longhorned beetle, an insect with such a voracious appetite for maples and other hardwoods that when it was first detected in Brooklyn, NY in 1996 the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture declared “an extraordinary emergency”. Since then the beetle has caused tens of thousands of trees to be destroyed in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.
About half of Vermont’s trees are susceptible to Asian longhorned beetle. This insect will have major impacts that will ripple throughout the forest products and tourism industries if it becomes established in Vermont:
In 2011, Vermont led the nation in production of maple syrup—1.14 million gallons from 3.3 million taps.This represents a 28% increase from 2010 and the highest level of maple syrup production since World War II.Maple syrup production alone (without including value added products such as maple candy and maple cream) generates $30,260,000 in revenue for the state (NEAS, 2011).
Furthermore, can you imagine foliage season without the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows of maple trees?The State’s Department of Tourism reports that foliage season alone brings in about $330 million, 25 percent of all tourism revenue in the state.
Infested trees can pose a hazard to public safety and property and serve as breeding grounds for more beetles.Removal of hazard trees would come at a great expense to affected communities. The U.S. Forest Service estimates the national loss of 1.2 billion urban trees representing 35% of total urban canopy cover and value loss of $669 billion if ALB were left to its’ own devices (Nowak et al. 2001).
As sugarmakers across the state prepare for what will hopefully be another banner year, ALB lurks uncomfortably close to our borders. Less than 50 miles away, an ALB infestation had been established for at least 10 years before it was detected in Worcester, MA in 2008. This time lag gave the population plenty of time to build in size and plenty of opportunity for wood to be moved without any thought to what might be hitching a ride. Fortunately, it is possible to eradicate ALB if it is detected early enough. In Chicago an alert citizen noticed a strange-looking beetle on his windshield after his neighbor dropped off a load of firewood. This discovery prompted a city-wide mobilization at all levels-from the federal government down through the state and local leaders to neighborhood residents. In 2005, 7 years after ALB was detected, Chicago was declared beetle-free.
What can you do to prevent the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle?
- While you’re tapping, inspect your trees for dime-sized exit holes that go deeper than the 1.5-2 inches you would otherwise drill to extract maple sap. To test the depth stick a pencil in the hole to see how far it goes in. For more information on signs and symptoms go to http://www.beetlebusters.info/whatDoesItLookLike.php.
- Monitor Your Trees. Keep an eye on your backyard and street trees for signs of the Asian longhorned beetle, such as dime-sized holes in your trees or large shiny black beetles. If you think you may have an Asian longhorned beetle visit http://www.vtinvasives.org/tree-pests/report-it for an identification key. Still think it’s ALB? Call: 1-866-702-9938.
- Be on the front line of defense against ALB and become a Forest Pest First Detector. Learn more.
- Volunteer to survey high risk areas such as campgrounds, nurseries and sawmills. Contact Rhonda Mace at 802-828-4546 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Don’t Move Firewood. The Asian longhorned beetle and other invasive pests can be transported to new places when people move firewood. When you go camping, buy or collect firewood close to where you’ll burn it. Visit www.firewood.vt.gov for more info.
New England Agricultural Statistics (NEAS). 2011. Maple Syrup Production up 43% Nationwide. National Agricultural Statistics Service. June 13, 2011.
Nowak, D.J., J.E. Pasek, R.A. Sequeira, D.E. Crane, V.C. Mastro. 2001. Potential effect of Anoplophora glabripennis (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) on urban trees in the United States, Journal of Economic Entomology. 94(1): 116-122.