Invasive plants, diseases and insects are an unfortunate part of modern life. The emerald ash borer has killed most native ash trees in the City, but a few residents continue to treat their ashes to protect them. An invasive insect on the City Tree Commission’s radar this year is the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). This accidental introduction has only been found in a few places in the U.S., but it has the potential to kill many thousands of maples and other common native trees where it becomes established.
Fortunately, this large beetle is not very mobile, and eradication efforts are underway, or have already been successful where the pest has been found. The closest infestation to UA is in SW Ohio outside Cincinnati. However, the beetle can travel in firewood, and residents should be vigilant.
The adult is large (about 1.5” long) with long striped antennae. It is black with white spots, and lives as a beetle from June–October laying eggs on trees. The larva is a plump white borer that tunnels through tree trunks, eventually killing the tree. After larvae pupate in the trunk, the adults emerge leaving a round hole slightly smaller than a dime.
If you see an adult beetle that is large, black, and has white spots, try to capture it and take it to the Parks & Recreation Office (3600 Tremont Road) for identification. The beetles are harmless to people and do not bite. Should you see adults you can’t capture, or distinctive exit holes in trees, call Parks & Forestry at 614-583-4340 and a staff arborist will investigate. Again, this beetle is not known to be in Central Ohio, but should it arrive, prompt detection and action would be essential.
Lastly, the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture recently announced that contaminated lilac and rhododendron shrubs sold at Walmart and Rural King stores this spring may carry the fungus that causes a disease known as sudden oak death. This disease is as grim as it sounds, and it would be devastating if it became established in Ohio. Residents who purchased rhododendrons or lilacs from those stores should contact the Department of Agriculture for instructions on destroying the infected plants.
Upper Arlington’s urban forest canopy is an incredibly valuable asset, and everyone can share in protecting it.