The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service declared August as Tree Check Month and urged the public to check trees for signs of Asian longhorned beetle.
"August is a time of peak emergence for the beetle and is most likely when members of the public will see an adult beetle infesting trees," states Scott Pfister, director of the service's Pest Management Division. "We're asking people to take 10 minutes and check your trees for the beetle and any signs of damage it causes."
The invasive beetle feeds on 13 species of hardwood trees, eventually killing them. Maple, willow, elm, horsechestnut and birch are its preferred hosts.
Checking trees on your property or in your neighborhood means looking at the host trees the beetle attacks for the beetle itself or signs of damage caused by it. The most concerning signs are dime-sized exit holes, roughly 1/4 inch or larger, perfectly round, found on the trunk and branches.
Look for round or oval shallow scars in the bark where the females chew egg-laying sites, and also for excrement, a sawdust-like material, on the ground at the base of the tree or at the crotches of branches.
Dead branches or canopy dieback can indicate something is wrong.
Finally, look for the beetle itself on the tree trunk, branches, ground and nearby surfaces.
With these unique characteristics, the beetle stands out from other insects:
Body is 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length
Long antennae banded in black and white (longer than the insect's body)
Shiny, jet black body with random white spots
Early detection is crucial in the fight against the invasive pest.
It can mean the difference between the six infested trees lost in Boston vs. more than 30,000 trees lost in Worcester County, Massachusetts.
Report sightings to the state Department of Agriculture by emailing BadBug@state.pa.us or calling 866-253-7189.