On September 4, 2003, the first Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALHB) was discovered attacking trees in Canada. Infestations were found in primarily industrial areas in the Ontario cities of Vaughn and Toronto.

All infested and neighbouring trees must be destroyed to eliminate the risk of ALHB spreading to uninfested areas.

Although the insect presents no threat to public health or our homes, the beetle does pose a significant threat to Canada's trees and forests, which are important aesthetically, environmentally and as a major source of hardwood building materials. Probably introduced into Canada through wood packaging used in shipping, the ALHB has no natural enemies in North America.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Canada's federal food safety, animal health and plant protection enforcement agency, has implemented an aggressive campaign to control and eradicate this unwanted pest.

Known as "starry sky beetle" in China, the Asian Longhorned beetle (ALHB), Anoplophora glabripennis, is an invasive quarantine insect native to Asia that is known to attack and kill healthy trees. The beetle does not attack evergreen or coniferous trees, but the majority of Canadian broadleaf trees are at risk, including all species of maple along with horse chestnut, birch, willow, elm, ash, poplars and alder.

Asian Longhorned Beetle larvae feed within the trunk and limbs of trees and eventually riddle the trees with holes, causing them to die. This beetle has a one- to two-year life cycle with four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult beetle. In Canada, it can overwinter as an egg, larva or pupa. Adults generally emerge in July and August and may live as late as the first frost.

Infestations have also been found in Austria and the United States (New York 1996, Chicago 1998 and Seattle 2000) and have resulted in the removal and destruction of over 5000 trees. Millions of dollars have been spent on the required surveys and control programs.

Your Help Is Vital

You can help by paying attention to the deciduous trees on your property and in your community.

  • The adult beetle has six legs, large shiny black body (maximum 35 mm long and 12 mm wide) with up to 20 white dots. The two long antennae have 11 segments, each black with a whitish ring at the base.
  • Signs of attack:
    1. Emerging adult beetles chew their way out of the tree, leaving large round holes (9 - 11 mm) in the branches and trunks.
    2. Oval-shaped wounds, dripping with sap, can be found on the tree where the female beetles have chewed through the bark to lay their eggs.
    3. Adult beetles feed on the leaves, bark and branch tips.
    4. Coarse sawdust may be found at the base of trees and where the branches connect to the trunk as a result of larvae feeding and chewing the tree.
  • Residents and hired landscape maintenance companies or property management companies are asked to not move any tree materials (including nursery stock, firewood, and fallen or pruned branches) from the infested area.
  • If you find a beetle or if you suspect an infestation, call 1-800-442-2342 or your local CFIA office. Do not remove a beetle from the area.

    The good news is that the CFIA is working with federal and provincial partners, local agencies and stakeholder groups to contain and eradicate this invader. Inspectors are investigating all links to infested trees, conducting intensive surveys in the surrounding areas and determining movement of any infested tree material. Over 4000 hectares of the 125 kilometre survey zone had been surveyed, as of September 29, 2003.

    The bad news? Losses will not be confined to trees. There are no provisions under the Plant Protection Act to compensate affected property owners for replacement costs, lost markets, loss of income or decreases in land value. If compensation is approved by the Minister, it would be limited to costs related to removal and disposal of trees ordered destroyed by the CFIA.

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