CRITTER SPOTLIGHT: Asian Longhorned Beetle: Anoplophora glabripennis
Hello Wonderful Explorer Friends,
I hope that this post finds you enjoying the rainy memorial day weekend. My girls and I took a fantastic hike at Stepping Stone Falls in the Arcadia Management Area in West Greenwich, Rhode Island yesterday. I encourage you all to get outside and explore. As long as you prepare yourself with the right clothing, rainy days can be the best for exploring.
Today's critter spotlight is not going to be one of my favorites but it is a necessary one. There are many invasive species in our state. An invasive species is not native to the area in which it is found and one that causes ecological damage and sometimes the extinction of native species. There are many common invasive species in Rhode Island, many of which are plants. However, there are a few animal invasive species as well. One of the most common in our watersheds is the Asian clam. Watershed Explorers have been finding Asian clams at most of the testing sites that we visit for many years.
The reason for this post is that on Friday, what appeared to be an Asian longhorned beetle was crawling on my deck. The unfortunate part is that I was unable to get a picture or capture the beetle for true recognition as it crawled on the underside of the deck and became unreachable. Having read a lot, and seen many pictures of the longhorned beetle, I am close to certain that is what I saw. These beetles are incredibly destructive.
Asian longhorned beetles can be confused with a native beetle known as the white-spotted sawyer beetle. Here is a visual that shows the difference.
The beetle that I saw looked dark black and shiny the way that the Asian longhorned appears. However, without a closer visual, it is difficult to be sure. Here is a picture to show the damage that Asian longhorned beetles can do if they are not managed.
These beetles destroy native trees. Adult beetles drill holes in trees and lay eggs there, then when larvae hatch, they burrow further into the tree and consume tree tissue. Larvae also live quite long, 1-3 years, in which time they can cause severe damage to trees.
State management agencies usually use an insecticide to kill Asian longhorned beetle. Insecticides are never ideal but in cases of infestation, if these measures are not taken, the trees will almost always die. The insecticide also stops the beetle from spreading to other trees or areas.
Invasive species can be extremely harmful to ecosystems and need to be closely observed and managed by scientists. Citizen science is another important factor that helps to identify invasive species populations. If you feel that you have spotted an Asian longhorned beetle, try to take a picture, or capture the beetle in a jar for identification. This helps the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) to decide the next steps for removal. The RIDEM has a website that you can visit that explains more about invasive species. It also has a form to fill out if you need to report one that you have seen.
Happy Exploring Watershed Scientists,