Alert issued after longhorn beetle discovery in Rutland

A public alert has been issued by the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) after a single citrus longhorn beetle (Anoplophora chinensis) was found from an unknown source at Langham Primary School near Oakham, Rutland.

FERA has reported three citrus longhorn beetle identifications and one Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) finding in recent weeks.

Principal plant health and seeds inspector Derek McCann warned the trade and public to be vigilant: "Normally we have the beetle, the plant and the hole - so it is a closed system. With the finding in Rutland, we have the beetle but we don't know where it came from. That's why we are doing a survey to make sure there is not an established population in the area."

Plant health inspectors will be contacting people within a 100m radius of the finding to inspect all potential host plants for signs of the beetle. The other findings of citrus longhorn beetle were made on imported Japanese maples (Acer palamtum) at private gardens in Haydock, Merseyside and in Hastings.

The single Asian longhorn beetle finding took place in Cumbria and is believed to have originated from packing material. McCann said: "The Asian longhorn is causing major problems in Germany and the USA. Citrus comes in live material and that caused problems in Boskoop and the big outbreak in Lombardy, where they are planning to spend £8.3m to eradicate it. It has already resulted in the destruction of thousands of tested trees."

Despite the recent two-year ban on imported Acers from China, there is still a risk because the pest can take up to four years to emerge in northern climates.

CITRUS LONGHORN BEETLES

Adult beetles are large and black with white markings and white/light blue banded antennae of up to twice their body length.

The larvae feed internally on the pith and vascular systems of the lower trunk and root. Adults feed on foliage and eat young bark. Adult beetles emerge between May and October, leaving a 10mm emergence hole above ground level in stems and roots.

Other signs of an infestation can include chewing damage to leaves and bark or the appearance of sawdust-like debris from the trunk of the host plant.

- For further details, see www.defra.gov.uk/fera or call 01904 465625.


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