As if last year didn’t bring us enough problems, it was also the year the Asian Longhorned Beetle decided to move to South Carolina. They have been in the United States since 1996 when the first beetles hitched a ride from Asia packed in wooden shipping crates. Previously found in 14 states, in May 2020 a homeowner in the South Carolina Lowcountry discovered an unusual black and white beetle on their front porch. A phone call to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service determined the insect to be an Asian Longhorned Beetle.
How to Identify
An invasive species native to China and Korea, Asian Longhorned Beetles can be identified by their shiny jet-black bodies and extra long antennae. The base of the antennae is blue-black with a whitish tint. Their protective wing-coverings, or elytron, have approximately 20 white spots, giving them their distinctive appearance.
These beetles prefer a wide range of hardwoods, including elms, willows, maples and birch trees. An adult female will select a host tree then chew a cavity in the bark where she will lay between 50 to 125 eggs. After a 7 to 14 day incubation period, the larvae hatch and create a feeding tunnel by chewing through the tree’s interior cell layers. They continue to eat and grow until they reach the tree’s exterior surface and emerge through the bark via a small hole. It is the larvae feeding process which damages and ultimately kills the tree. The larvae travel en masse through the tree’s heartwood and due to the large number of larvae feeding at the same time the tree begins to experience girdling which eventually leads to the tree’s demise.
These beetles are killing hardwood trees that are grown and sold for lumber. They are killing hardwood trees found in parks that provide shade for picnickers and homes for birds, squirrels and opossums. From falling limbs to entire trees coming down due to interior structural weakening, these trees present a physical danger to homes, vehicles and pedestrians. This is why agricultural departments not only here in South Carolina but in all the infected states are working diligently to track and eradicate these beetles, while many neighboring states have developed preemptive educational programs.
Worried about the health of your trees? Let Out on a Limb Tree Service put your mind at ease. We offer complementary inspections and provide written estimates for everything from pruning to tree removal upon request. For more information, please call Eric at 864-320-8787 or fill out our convenient online contact form. Also, don’t forget, it’s time to schedule your warm weather tree pruning before the summer storms arrive!