What’s Bugging Us? New Beetle Discovered in NYC

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In New York City, of all places, a new species of Agrilus beetle was discovered in an historic cemetery on beech trees.

Agrilus beetles are known as jewel beetles and have over 3000 known species worldwide, the largest number of species of any genus in the animal kingdom. Other infamous members of the Agrilus genus include emerald ash borer and other flatheaded borers.

This new species of Agrilus was discovered during scouting activities in 2017 for invasive species. Beech trees exhibiting signs of crown stress and branch dieback were sampled, and the insect was found. Samples were explored again in 2018, with additional finds. The cemetery is an accredited arboretum and is close to a major shipping port. This is such a new find, that an official name has not been released yet. In the meantime, researchers are calling it Agrilus sp. 9895.

DNA analyses indicate this insect is not native to the U.S. but is likely from Europe, and likely arrived in the U.S. through human-mediated dispersal.

The beetle was found feeding on European beech trees. So far damage appears to be confined to the outer twigs of trees, and tree mortality does not seem evident. This is good news. The U.S. Forest Service has funded a three-year survey in areas surrounding the cemetery (Brooklyn), with a focus on beech, oak, and chestnut trees.

The discovery is unusual, as most new insects are found in tropical areas, but the announcement is timely. USDA APHIS declared August to be Tree Check Month for Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). ALB emerges from trees this time of the year, making detections easier.

ALB host trees include maple, birch, elm, willow, ash, and poplar, and active infestations are known in Worcester County, MA, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, New York, and Clermont County, OH. Adults are distinctive. If any are found, please report to USDA.

Speaking of emerald ash borer (EAB)…USDA-APHIS has announced expansion, effective immediately, of the EAB regulated area to now include the following:

  • St. Clair and Talladega Counties, Alabama
  • Stearns County, Minnesota
  • Lancaster, Saunders, and Otoe Counties, Nebraska
  • York County, Maine
  • The northeast portion of Aroostock County, Maine

All interstate movement of EAB regulated articles, such as firewood of all hardwood species, nursery stock, green lumber, waste, compost, and chips of ash species. APHIS proposed to remove the EAB quarantine in fall of 2018, citing that they have outlived their usefulness. The comment period closed in November, 2018; all comments are currently under review.

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