It’s long. It’s distinctive. And it chews dime-sized holes in many species of hardwood trees so that it can lay eggs in them, perpetuating a cycle that leads to infestation and the death of the tree.
USDA officials are mobilizing a response after confirming the presence of the Asian longhorned beetle in Worcester, Mass. A resident saw one of the big, spotted bugs, took a picture, and alerted authorities.
Meanwhile, the bug also was found in Deerfield, Illinois, near Chicago. The bug was previously eradicated from the area five years ago, but scientists now are wondering whether a new infestation has begun.
The typical response is to look for more of the insects, burn any infested trees, and inoculate healthy trees in the area against infestation. Trees in New York City have been the target of an aggressive campaign to keep the bug from spreading.
Although the invasive pest had previously been detected in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Ontario and other states and provinces, the Massachusetts sighting was the first confirmed one in that state.
The bug, native to China, was first detected in the United States in 1995. It typically arrives in new areas via wooden shipping crates that are used to bring goods over from Asia. Although the beetle can survive in most any American climate zone, officials still are hopeful they can stop it before it proliferates.