Check It Out! August is Tree Check Month

By on August 26, 2015

Forestry-Files-740x420Is your tree at risk?  How would you even know? Trees may not need an annual visit to the doctor, but they do need some conscientious care every now and then. August is the right time to see if your tree is in need of such care because it is officially Tree Check Month.

Tree Check Month was created as a reminder for homeowners, landowners and forest managers to check trees for signs and symptoms of the Asian longhorned beetle. The Asian longhorned beetle is a non-native insect that has caused quite a stir in the northeast by threatening trees in landscapes, parks and forests. August is peak emergence for the Asian longhorned beetle and, in the case of this insect, finding an infestation early is the key to eradication. It has successfully been eradicated from several areas after early detections led to rapid response.

One of the things that makes the Asian longhorned beetle such a big threat is that it attacks many species of trees. They have been found infesting maple, ash, birch, elm, horse chestnut, poplar, willow, mountain ash, mimosa, and more.

So what should you look for if checking trees for the Asian longhorned beetle? There are a few things that may tip you off:

  • Exit holes – When the adult beetles chew their way out of the tree, they leave a round exit hole about 1/4″ in diameter, about the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Egg niches – An oval or round chewed depression in the bark may be an oviposition site. Female beetles chew oval depressions into the bark of the host tree, where they lay a single egg beneath the bark.  It looks like a a wound or woodpecker activity on the tree.
  • Sawdust-like droppings – As Asian longhorned beetle larvae feed, they leave a sawdust-like excrement, called “frass.” This typically falls on the ground or lower branches.

The Asian longhorned beetle has not yet been found in NC, but we encourage you to check your trees anyway.  This insect can easily travel hundreds of miles in infested materials such as firewood, so their sudden appearance is not out of the question.

School is just beginning, but it’s already time to administer an exam! A tree exam can go a long way to protecting current and future trees of North Carolina. Please report the location and descriptions of potentially infested trees to 1-800-206-9333 or newpest@ncagr.gov.

An adult Asian longhorned beetle perches on a branch that exhibits egg niche damage and a singel exit hole.  Image: Kenneth R. Law, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org.

Adult Asian longhorned beetles perch on a branch that exhibits egg niche damage and a single exit hole. Image: Kenneth R. Law, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org.

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