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U.S. Forest Service, Penn State University To Begin Setting Traps for Asian Longhorned Beetles in Quarantined Communities

Posted: June 2, 2011

WORCESTER, Mass., June 7, 2011 – Researchers from the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station and Penn State University will join forces to place 500 traps for Asian longhorned beetles (ALB) in the communities of Worcester, West Boylston, Boylston, Shrewsbury, and Holden, Mass., in early June.

Scientists with the Northern Research Station and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) are testing the traps to determine their effectiveness and efficiency in detecting ALB.  If proven effective, traps may help to determine if areas previously cleared of infested trees remain free of ALB, and may also help delimit quarantine boundaries established by APHIS, such as the infestation discovered in Worcester in 2008. Staff with the Northern Research Station, Penn State University, and APHIS will place traps in the lower canopy of trees. Traps will be removed in September.

The traps will have a lure that is a combination of an ALB produced pheromone and green leaf maple odors (plant volatiles). Pheromones are chemicals produced and used by animals to communicate with each other and are often specific to a species. In the past, traps used a combination of pheromone and plant volatile odors that attracted only females. This year researchers will change the blend of plant volatiles so that lures should also attracts male ALB.

The beetles pose a serious threat to hardwood trees such as maple, boxelder, horsechestnut, elm, and poplar, and ALB infestation has been devastating for some communities. In Worcester, nearly 20,000 infested trees and 10,250 high-risk trees have been removed to date.

“Helping the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program know where to look to find infested trees so they can be removed is critical to reducing the spread of the beetle,” according to Melody Keena, a research entomologist with the Northern Research Station. “Trapping may ultimately reduce the number of trees we lose.”

The development of an effective trap is a significant step forward in controlling the spread of ALB. When a beetle is found inside a trap, nearby trees will be examined to determine the source of the infestation. Currently, ALB infestations are detected through visual surveys by examining trees for signs of the beetles, such as exit holes and egg laying sites on the trunk and branches. Traps may allow for a continuous evaluation of an area, throughout the adult emergence period, roughly June through October.  Producing an effective trap for the beetle has been a goal since the beetle was first identified in New York in 1996.

Trapping in previous years has been used primarily to help identify the best trap and lure. This year, the expanded trapping program will also serve as a demonstration of the usefulness for the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program in Worcester, Mass, which may use the traps as part of the eradication program in the future.

The trap testing is being funded by grants to Penn State University from the U.S. Forest Service and the Alphawood Foundation. In addition to the partnership of researchers from the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station and Penn State University, the following are collaborators on this project the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, APHIS, and the Massachusetts Department of Conversation and Recreation. 

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. The mission of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.