Introduced Species Summary Project
Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis)

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Common Name: Asian Longhorned Beetle Asian Longhorned Beetle

Scientific Name: Anoplophora glabripennis


Phylum or Division: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera 
Family: Cerambycidae

Identification:: The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) is large, ranging from 0.75-1.25 inches long; with very long black and white antennae.  The body is glossy black with irregular white spots.  These beetles feed on many species of hardwood trees. Adults can be seen from late spring to fall depending on the climate. Predominant reproductive cycle is one year, passing the winter most commonly in the larval stage. Adult emergence in New York and Illinois appears to range from July to November.  The female ALB chews depressions (oviposition sites) in the bark of trees to lay eggs. A single female beetle can lie from 35 to 90 eggs. Hatching within 10 to 15 days, the worm–like immature larvae tunnel under tree bark and bore into healthy hardwood trees. The beetle larvae feed on living tree tissue during the fall and winter and, after pupating, emerge through exit holes during the spring. After emerging, adult beetles feed on tree exteriors for 2 to 3 days, then mate. Adult beetles remain active only during summer and early fall months before perishing—completing a 1–year life cycle. Since beetle larvae live deep inside trees the majority of the year, they can easily and unknowingly be moved in firewood, live trees, or fallen timber. ALB more commonly spread by natural means; under their own power they can fly distances greater than 400 yards. Migration may also depend on the abundance of suitable host materials (i.e., hardwood trees).

Original Distribution: Eastern China in poplar plantations and other plantings

Current Distribution: it was first found infesting trees in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York in August 1996.  It is believed that ALB entered the U.S. in wood pallets holding pipe shipped from China for a sewer project in the late 1980s. In September 1996 an infestation was also found in Amityville, NY, several miles east of the Greenpoint infestation.  It is thought that this infestation occurred as a result of movement of infested wood from Greenpoint

Site and Date of Introduction: As of February 2001, ALB has been found infesting trees in only two cities in the U.S.; New York and Chicago. However, a Carteret, New Jersey, homeowner discovered ALB on a tree in his back yard on August 2, 2004. A large infestation was found in nearby area, spreading into Woodbridge, New Jersey, and Rahway, New Jersey. The beetle was first spotted in Jersey City in October of 2002 by someone who saw it fly onto a tree. A later news report attracted his attention to the potential threat of the Asian longhorned beetle. He contacted the NJDA, and state and federal agricultural inspectors confirmed the beetle's presence soon after. Based on an initial survey, it appears that approximately 100 trees were affected within a 9-acre area just north of the Newport Parkway and just east of Washington Boulevard, New Jersey. Moreover, live beetles have been found at the ports and in warehouses in several different states.


Mode(s) of Introduction: Determined by USDA officials to have entered the United States inside solid wood packing material from China.

Reason(s) Why it has Become Established: Because the ALB has an extended egg-through-larval transition, the organism remains virtually invisible for up to one year. During this period it is difficult to detect and may be easily inadvertently transported by human activity especially in wood packing materials. Once delivered to a potential colonization site in the temperate zone or North America, a ready supply of host arboreal species is virtually guaranteed. Although, subject to heightened levels of awareness on the part of government and citizenry the long “hidden” passage of the beetle to adult renders detection difficult, except by means of identifying egg deposit borings or emergent adults. ALB has no known natural predator in the United States for any phase of the life cycle; only limited biotic and abiotic factors have been identified within the temperate zone of North America to limit the potential  

Ecological Role: ALB is considered a pest both here and in China, its country of origin. The beetle attacks many different species of hardwood trees, including maple (Norway, sugar, silver, and red), birch, horse chestnut, poplar, willow, elm, ash, and black locust. Unlike most cerambycids inhabiting the temperate zone, the ALB feeds on both healthy and weakened trees as opposed to recently dead or dying wood. In addition, unlike most wood-feeding insects, inhabiting living hosts the ALB is polyphagous as opposed to monophagous, feeding on a wide variety of host species. .  Females oviposit at multiple locations from exposed roots to the trunks and all but the smallest branches of the host trees allowing a high concentration of infestation of a single host organism. ALB larvae devour healthy bark and xylum, creating tunnels into the healthy tree which begin horizontally and turn upwards to a length of approximately 10 cm. In great numbers this destruction of the healthy heartwood of the tree first weakens the host organism and with continued or repeated infestation can lead to its demise

Benefit(s): Although there are currently no documented benefits of this species, it is hard to imagine potential for positive effects offsetting the potential negative impact of this species on North American trees. Typical cerambycids, infesting dying or recently dead wood contribute to the natural “recycling process”, breaking down potential wood sources for other organisms and contributing to soil creation and enrichment. However, it is difficult to construe the destruction of healthy living organisms positively integrated with established ecosystems as anything but negative.

Threat(s): The ALB has the potential to cause more damage than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, and gypsy moths combined, destroying millions of acres of America’s treasured hardwoods, including national forests and backyard trees. The beetle has the potential to damage such industries as lumber, maple syrup, nursery, commercial fruit, and tourism accumulating over $41 billion in losses.

Control Level Diagnosis: Highest priority, ALB has the potential to alter North American Ecosystems, due to its tree killing and polyphagous habits and potential for widespread distribution on the continent   

Control Method: At this time, the only accepted official means of dealing with trees having any signs of ALB in the US is to cut down all infested trees, chip and burn all of the wood, and grind the stump. As of January 2001, over 5,000 trees have been removed in the New York area, and almost 1,500 in Chicago. Although treatments exist to control ALB–infested cargo, the ALB is not easily controlled once it is introduced into the environment. Because the majority of the beetle’s life is spent deep within the heartwood of host trees, it is difficult to control using contact insecticides. Although costly and undesirable, the only assured method of eliminating the beetle is to cut and chip or burn infested trees and replace them with nonhost species.

The recently introduced insecticide imidacloprid shows great potential in preventing the spread of ALB and is expected to become an additional effective control tool in the eradication of this pest. Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide that, when applied directly into the trunk of a tree or the soil near a tree, moves quickly upward into stems, twigs, and foliage where the beetles would be expected to feed and lay eggs.

Author: Tamara Muruetagoiena
Last Edited: 11-24-04

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