Longhorn beetle warning

Tree health authorities are appealing to the public to be on the alert during August and September for Asian longhorn and citrus longhorn beetles.

The Forestry Commission says eradication action taken against an outbreak of Asian longhorn beetles in Kent last year appears to have been successful. Further monitoring will be carried out in the area over the next three years to confirm this, or deal with more beetles.

The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce risk register includes Asian longhorn
beetle (ALB) and citrus longhorn beetle (CLB). Imported wooden packing material is a pathway for these and some other tree pests.

Workers at places which might have received deliveries from Asia of tree and shrub plants, and goods in wooden crates and packaging, are being asked to watch for signs of the beetles,
particularly on imports from China, Japan and Korea.

The summer is the best time to spot the large black and white beetles as they emerge from trunks and branches, spread to other trees, and lay eggs.

Chief plant health officer Martin Ward said: "Government plant health services cannot do this work alone, and we need the public to act as our eyes and ears in gardens, parks, woodlands and workplaces to help us spot threats quickly before they become a serious problem.

"The public can really help us at this time of year by looking out for these two potentially serious beetle pests. They thrive in climates similar to ours, and their establishment could result in losses of trees from a wide range of species."

Forestry Commission plant health service head Dr John Morgan added: "There are strict controls in place to protect the UK against accidental introductions of these pests, but we need to back these up with constant vigilance and reporting of suspected cases. These beetles could threaten a wide range of ornamental, fruit and woodland trees, and the public and trade have a vital role to play in protecting our trees."

Asian longhorn beetle's alternative name is "starry sky beetle". Their distinctive antennae can be up to twice as long as their bodies (giving rise to the term "longhorn"), and are black
with white or light blue bands.

Anyone finding beetles should isolate them if possible (preferably in a sealed glass jar) and contact the Plant Health & Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI) of the Food & Environment Research Agency (Fera) by telephoning 01904 465625 or emailing planthealth.info@fera.gsi.gov.uk.

The PHSI should also be notified of any other signs of the beetles' presence, such as larvae exit holes in nearby trees.

Suspected sightings can be also reported using the Forestry Commission's 'Tree Alert' app or on-line reporting form available via www.forestry.gov.uk/asianlonghornbeetle.

See www.fera.defra.gov.uk/plants/plantHealth/pestsDiseases/clb/index.cfm and

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