ID Aids for Tree Check Month

August is Tree Check Month because it is an ideal time to check your trees for signs of the invasive and destructive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). ALB is currently restricted to a few small regions of the country, but invasive species may occur anywhere. We gathered this set of ID Aids to highlight three invasive pests that could be lurking in your neighborhood trees. These ID Aids support citizens when checking their trees for the pests themselves as well as for the signs and symptoms of infestation. Find the region in which you live, and learn more to help protect our natural resources. Better yet, read about all three pests because the spread of these pests are partly due to human activities such as moving firewood, so education, diligence, and citizen involvement will help halt their paths of destruction.

Northeastern and Midwestern regions (detected in NY, MA, and OH): The Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis [ALB]), native to Asia, is a distinctive black beetle with white spots and long black and white antennae. Yet seeing the insect itself is not always the first tell-tale sign it’s present; rather, tree symptoms such as exit holes, dead crowns, and frass are good indicators. ALB attacks several hardwood species, many of which are common ornamental and shade trees, including Acer spp. (maple), Betula spp. (birch), and Ulmus spp. (elm).

Asian Longhorned Beetle: Exit Holes

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

This short video shows the exit holes observed on trees.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

University of Massachusetts Extension, United States of America

This longer video covers host species, host symptoms, beetle identification, and how to distinguish it from a similar-looking native sawyer (Monochamus spp.) beetle.

Check Your Trees for the Asian Longhorned Beetle Handout

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

A printable, foldable pocket guide. Give it to youngsters to get them involved.

North, Central, and Southern regions (detected in 30 states as far west as Colorado): The emerald ash borer (EAB) has become widespread, killing millions of Fraxinus (ash) trees since its initial detection in Michigan in 2002. Like the ALB, it is native to Asia, likely accidentally introduced on wood packing material. It is a small but distinctive beetle with metallic green wings. EAB feeds only on ash and can kill a tree within three years after the first egg is laid.

What is the Emerald Ash Borer?

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

A printable, foldable pamphlet useful as a portable reference.

Emerald Ash Borer ID (Outsmart App)

University of Massachusetts Extension, United States of America

This video covers how to identify an ash tree, EAB signs and symptoms observed on it, and how to identify EAB and distinguish it from native borers.

Nature Walk: Understanding the Life Cycle of the EAB

Two Animators! LLP, United States of America

This animation is aimed at getting young people interested in protecting natural resources and educating them on the signs of EAB in ash trees.

Western and Southern regions (detected in WA, OR, GA, OK, and SC): Also native to Asia, the Asian gypsy moth (AGM) is the common name for several species of moths in the Lymantria genus, but most frequently refers to Lymantria dispar asiatica. Unlike the ALB and EAB, these moths are unremarkable-looking, yet the caterpillars’ appetites are anything but: AGM eats over 500 tree and shrub species including apple, oak, willow, and elm. A large horde can defoliate an entire tree, leaving the tree vulnerable to other ailments. Females are strong fliers and can travel up to twenty miles. Just one egg mass may contain upward of a thousand eggs. Checking trees and shrubs for egg masses glued to bark, defoliated trees and shrubs, and hairy caterpillars that may have blue and red spots on their backside could stop an established population from wreaking havoc.

Lymantria dispar asiatica

National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN), United States of America

Fact sheet and image gallery describing identification and damage.

Forestry Images: Asian Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar asiatica

University of Massachusetts Extension, United States of America

Image gallery with many useful images.