Beetle threat to ‘leaf peeping’ tourism

Looking out of the office window at this time of year, I’m fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the sight of trees turning all possible shades of red and orange. In parts of the USA, autumn foliage is big business for tourism, with ‘leaf peepers’ descending on New England every autumn to see forests full of spectacular reds, oranges and yellows. But while skimming the tourism news this week as part of my job of editor of Leisuretourism.com, my eye was caught by news from the Nashua Telegraph of an unusual threat to tourism: beetles.

An infestation of an invasive wood-devouring beetle, the Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis, to use its scientific name) has been found in Worcester, Massachusetts. Authorities there plan to cut down and grind up large numbers of infested trees in a bid to stop the pest from spreading to the region’s celebrated forests and ravaging the timber, tourism and maple-syrup industries. New England accounts for over half the maple syrup made in the US, as well as being the centre for autumn foliage tourism. The beetle’s favourite food is the red and sugar maples that produce the most vivid colours.

The beetle has previously been found in states including New York, New Jersey and Illinois. Eradication efforts there have cost $268 million over the past 11 years, with thousands of trees being cut down. Thought to have been imported to the USA from its native range in Asia in wood packaging material (Bialooki, 2003), it has no native predators in North America and is hard to eradicate with insecticides. It has also been recorded in recent years in several European countries, including Poland (Bialooki, 2003), Italy (Maspero et al., 2007) and Austria (Berendes and Pehl, 2003). Berendes and Pehl suggest that trees in urban areas are most in danger of infection, and that spread of the pest into forests must be prevented at all costs since a complete eradication of the insect in forests is extremely difficult. In Massachusetts, the Nashua Telegraph reports that thousands of trees in the infested area are marked for destruction once frost has killed the adult beetles.

A quick search on CAB Abstracts finds over 200 bibliographic records for Anoplophora glabripennis, including 37 from the United States. Possible biological control is examined by Shanley and Hajek (2008). US research on the beetle was summarized by Haack (2003).

An updated Distribution Map for Anoplophora glabripennis, compiled by CABI in association with EPPO, will be released at the end of 2008. For the latest information on the pest in the USA from EPPO, click here to find information note 2008/157.

References

Berendes, K. H. , Pehl, L. / The Asian Long-Horned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis Motschulsky) – a new risk to trees. Nachrichtenblatt des Deutschen Pflanzenschutzdienstes, 2003, Vol. 55, No. 4, pp. 93-98, 8 ref.

Bialooki, P. / Anoplophora glabripennis – first confirmation in Poland. Ochrona Roslin, 2003, Vol. 47, No. 11, pp. 34-35

Haack, R. A. / Research on Anoplophora glabripennis in the United States. Nachrichtenblatt des Deutschen Pflanzenschutzdienstes, 2003, Vol. 55, No. 4, pp. 68-70, 33 ref.

Maspero, M. , Jucker, C. , Colombo, M. / First record of Anoplophora glabripennis (Motschulsky) (Coleoptera Cerambycidae Lamiinae Lamiini) in Italy. Bollettino di Zoologia Agraria e di Bachicoltura, 2007, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 161-164, 12 ref.

Shanley, R. P. , Hajek, A. E. / Environmental contamination with Metarhizium anisopliae from fungal bands for control of the Asian longhorned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Biocontrol Science and Technology, 2008, Vol. 18, No. 1/2, pp. 109-120, 30 ref.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s