Red Maple Misfortune

Red Maple Misfortune

Asian longhorned beetle adult on a maple trunk.

Asian longhorned beetle adult on a maple trunk.

A recently published US Forest Service study revealed that the massively destructive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is four times more likely to develop to adulthood when feeding on red maples (Acer rubrum) as compared to other susceptible species. The study, published in the journal “Insects”, showed that ALB attacked red maples at very high rates, and far more adults emerged more often than from other maple species. This is not only terrible news for red maples but for trees and forests on the whole, red maple has such a large geographical distribution that they are basically providing an ALB super highway introducing the insect into previously unaffected areas.

Damage from the larvae of the Asian longhorned beetle is catastrophic.

Damage from the larvae of the Asian longhorned beetle is catastrophic.

This research focused on forest composed of multiple hardwood species in ALB quarantine zones in Massachusetts. Egg sites were found in sugar, Norway and red maples throughout the stands, but while fully developed beetles chewed their way out of 15% of Norway maples and 12% of sugar maples, nearly 60% of red maples examined had produced adult beetles. New Jersey and Illinois have successfully eradicated ALB populations while efforts continue in New York, Massachusetts and Ohio. This study, which built upon 2011 research performed by the forest service and Harvard University, may help prioritize eradication strategies and efforts in states which remain affected. Currently efforts focus on surveying and monitoring all possible susceptible species, which include: ash, birch,elm, goldenrain tree, hackberry, horse chestnut, katsura, London plane tree, maple, mimosa, mountain ash, poplar and willow, however, results from this research could aid in reworking methodologies to collect data more efficiently. The full text of this study can be downloaded and viewed at http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4450/5/1/105.