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Imported wood and wood packaging material brings damaging beetles to Britain

The Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) is native to Southeast Asia, where it is a serious pest of broadleaved trees. In 2012, an outbreak of the beetle was discovered in Kent, in southern England, next to a small industrial premises where a previous occupant business had imported stone from China.

The discovery of Asian longhorn beetle in Kent prompted an eradication programme: all infested trees, and trees within 100 metres of infested trees, which could have hosted the beetle were felled and destroyed. Forest Research collected detailed information about the outbreak while the eradication programme was being carried out, including which tree species were most affected.

  • 2229 trees were felled
  • 66 trees contained Asian longhorn beetle
  • The most numerous host was sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)
  • 26% of sycamores in the area were attacked
  • 70% of the total larvae (grubs) were found in sycamore
  • 98% of adults (beetles) had emerged from sycamore

Future outbreaks

The main risk of another Asian longhorn beetle outbreak comes from untreated wood packaging material imported from China, as in the outbreak in Kent. Wood might appear safe to transport, but the beetle’s larvae are well protected within untreated wood, so they might go unnoticed until they emerge and escape into the local environment after the wood arrives at its final destination.

Suitable climate

Analysis of climate data suggests that most of England and Wales, and some of the warmer coastal areas of Scotland, are suitable for Asian longhorn beetle. If it becomes established in Great Britain, it could cause extensive damage to our urban and woodland trees, including economically important species. It is therefore important to prevent the beetle from becoming established here.

If you suspect that a tree is infested with Asian longhorn beetle you must report it immediately.

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