Asian Longhorned Beetle in South Carolina

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Researchers confirmed the first finding of Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in South Carolina. A homeowner in Charleston County found a suspicious looking insect that was later identified by specialists at Clemson University’s Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic and USDA APHIS. At least four maple trees had live beetles present.

Only five other states have reported ALB infestations since its first discovery in the US in 1996. Eradication efforts are ongoing in New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio, while New Jersey and Illinois are believed to have successfully eradicated ALB. Inspectors in South Carolina have already begun intense survey efforts to assess the full extent of ALB spread. In the meantime, state and APHIS officials ask residents to immediately report signs of ALB and not move firewood out of the area to minimize risk of transmission.

ALB is an invasive insect native to China and Korea that feeds on a number of host trees, including maple, ash, birch, elm, sycamore, and others. Once a tree is infested, it must be removed and destroyed. ALB has been implicated in the loss of over 180,000 estimated trees in Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois.

Adults are very distinctive in appearance; they are large (1-1.5” long), have long, black and white antennae, and shiny black bodies with small, white dots. They are bark boring insects whose larvae tunnel galleries in tree trunks and branches. Adult activity is most obvious in summer months and early fall, and adults tend to remain on their host tree throughout their life. Signs of an ALB infestation occurs usually in 3-4 years, with tree death occurring in 10-15 years.

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