Let’s Talk About Parks: Be The Hero In The Asian Longhorned Beetle Story

JUL 11, 2017 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Classic movies have memorable villains — from Kylo Ren and Darth Vadar in the “Star Wars” universe, to Sherlock Holmes’ Professor Moriarty — that leave impressions long after you’ve finish watching. Your parks also have villains that have the potential to do great harm.  The Asian longhorned beetle is front and center in being crowned with that dubious honor. But you are also a star in this tale, as you have the power to help stop this insectoid beast and the extensive park damage it can cause.

An invasive, or non-native, species of beetle originally from Korea, China and Japan, the Asian longhorned beetle migrated to the United States sometime in the 1990s as a stowaway in shipping pallets. Shipping pallets make freight handling more efficient and help maximize space, which keeps costs down, but unbeknownst to U.S. ports, Asian longhorned beetles and their larva were in the wood that was used to construct the pallets. The insect was first spotted in New York in 1996, and since then has slowly but steadily sunk its damaging mandibles into forests across the Northeast.

A key component of what makes the Asian longhorned beetle such a formidable threat is its diet. A pickier eater would be more predictable, because if it loved just one particular tree we could monitor that tree type and watch for infestation.  However, even though the Asian longhorned beetle is partial to red maples, it will make do with a wide range of host tree species that include buckeyes, birches, planes, sycamores, willows, elms, boxelders and other maples... Read the full article