Broadleaved tree pest Asian longhorn beetle "eradicated from UK"

The Asian longhorn beetle, an imported pest of broadleaved trees, has been eradicated in the UK following six years of trapping and surveillance work by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the Forestry Commission.

Image: Kyle Ramirez (CC BY 3.0)
Image: Kyle Ramirez (CC BY 3.0)

Native to East Asia, the pest, Anoplophora glabripennis, was first discovered in Kent in 2012, and is believed to have been introduced through infested imported wood packaging material.

It is a serious threat to a range of broadleaved trees, including timber and fruit-growing species, as its larvae feed on living wood, boring "galleries" or tunnels in the trunks and branches, which can penetrate from the outer layer to the heartwood, potentially killing the tree.

Announcing the news, Defra biosecurity minister Lord Gardiner said: "This is a testament to the dedication and hard work carried out by our Plant Health service."

He added: "Globalisation in trade, increased travel and the diversity of plants entering the UK mean more threats to plant health. Our strong response includes investing more than £4.5m to strengthen our border security, recruiting and enhancing training for new plant inspectors."

Defra chief plant health officer Nicola Spence, said: "Asian longhorn beetle would pose a serious threat to our treescape if allowed to establish, so it is great news that it has been officially eradicated in the UK.

"Strong biosecurity relies on everyone playing their part – in our forests, at borders or when buying plants. It is important that we continue to raise awareness of the simple things that people can do to protect against pests and diseases, such as sourcing plants from a reputable nursery."

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