Imported wood and wood packaging material brings exotic 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 company 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 that could have hosted the beetle were felled and destroyed. Forest Research collected detailed information about the outbreak whilst the eradication programme was being carried out, including which tree species were most affected.
- 2229 trees felled
- 66 trees contained Asian longhorn beetle
- Most important host was sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)
- 26% of sycamores in the area were attacked
- 70 % of the total larvae were found in sycamore
- 98 % of adults had emerged from sycamore
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 may appear safe to transport, but the beetle’s larvae are well protected within untreated wood, so may go unnoticed and only emerge after the wood arrives at its final destination.
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 here in Britain, it could cause extensive damage to urban and woodland trees. Consequently, it is important to prevent the beetle from becoming established in Britain.
If you suspect that a tree is infested with Asian longhorn beetle you should report it immediately. Find out more about tree symptoms and how to report suspected cases.