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November 2012 Web Extra: A history of ALB in North America

November 23, 2012 -  By

By Joe Boggs, Amy Stone and Dan Herms

Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) (Anoplophora glabripennis) was first discovered in North America in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1996. It was later discovered in three other New York City boroughs, in two counties on Long Island, and in two counties in New Jersey; the counties are just across the Hudson River from New York City. All of these infestations are related through an original point of introduction from Asia and then a subsequent movement of infested materials. The general pattern of multiple ALB infestations being found in a region was repeated in Chicago in 1998 where five related infestations were discovered. ALB also was found in 1998 in Toronto, Ontario. In 2008, the largest infestation in North America was discovered in Worcester, Mass.

In 2011, ALB was found in Bethel, Ohio, a small rural town about 25 miles east of Cincinnati. Like elsewhere, the beetles responsible for the Ohio infestation arrived directly from Asia and since its discovery two smaller satellite infestations have been found. Both infestations have been traced back to infested wood being moved from Bethel prior to the discovery of the beetle in Ohio.

Never assume

However, the ALB situation in Ohio represents several “firsts.” It was the first time the beetle had been found in a rural area dominated by farmland, and it is the southernmost ALB infestation to be found in North America. The Ohio infestations illustrate how this beetle may pop up where least expected: Bethel is a rural community; it’s not a transportation hub. The take-home message is never to assume ALB is “somewhere else.” Ohio was also the first time the beetle had been found in an area where emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) (EAB) is known to be wreaking havoc on ash in landscapes and forests. EAB actually overlapped ALB in Chicago; however, it was not known in 1998 that EAB had established beachheads in North America.

EAB was first detected in North America in a Detroit suburb in 2002. Unfortunately, the beetle had already become widespread in a number of states prior to its discovery. Given the overlap between EAB and ALB in Ohio, when people think of ALB, they may also be thinking of EAB, which is now widely distributed in the state. This confusion will probably be repeated in other states as EAB spreads into areas where ALB has been discovered. The two beetles are like apples to oranges in almost all aspects, including their host range, tree-killing behavior and management options in North America.

The EAB story provides a cautionary tale; by the time the beetle was found, it was already too late for eradication. ALB remains confined to relatively small and distinct infestations compared to EAB, and it spreads much slower, so eradication remains a viable strategy. In fact, ALB has been successfully eradicated from Chicago, Hudson County, N.J. (Jersey City) and from Suffolk (Islip) County, N.Y., and eradication is nearly complete in some of the New York City boroughs. Successful eradication of ALB depends on early detection.

Fortunately, while ALB adults are relatively good fliers, they take flight much less frequently compared to smaller beetles like EAB, perhaps because their large bodies require much more energy to launch and remain airborne. ALB was first found in North America in 1996 and even now, populations remain small and isolated compared to EAB. The management strategy for ALB is eradication with the overarching goal to eliminate ALB from North America.

Report suspected ALB infestations at

Boggs is an assistant professor with The Ohio State University (OSU) Extension and OSU Department of Entomology. He works as a commercial horticulture educator for OSU Extension, Hamilton County (Cincinnati). Reach him at Stone is a horticulture educator and county director with OSU Extension, Lucas County (Toledo). She is the state-wide coordinator for the OSU Extension, EAB/ALB Team. Reach her at Herms is professor and interim chairperson of the OSU Department of Entomology. Reach him at

LM Staff

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