Rocks Estate to Serve as Sentinel Site for Asian Longhorned Beetle

July 8, 2010

Rocks Estate to Serve as Sentinel Site for Asian Longhorned Beetle

- by Thomas Durkis, NH State Entomologist

The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) is an exotic pest, native to China and Korea, which threatens our forest resources and community trees. It attacks a wide variety of hardwoods including, but not limited to, maple, birch, poplar, elm and horse chestnut. Infestations in the US have occurred in New York, Illinois and New Jersey, and more recently, in the Worcester area of Massachusetts. This latter infestation is about 30 miles from our NH border, encompasses 74 square miles and has already required the removal of over 24,000 infested trees.

To the best of our knowledge, ALB has not been found in New Hampshire. Public awareness is crucial for helping to increase the likelihood of early detection. In fact, to date, all major ALB infestations have been found by the public. Unfortunately, in most cases the beetles have had ample time to become established before being detected.  

The sentinel tree project is based on the work of Dr. Michael Smith, a USDA, ARS insect behaviorist, who is pioneering methods to detect ALB.  His data indicates that a particular maple tree known as the painted maple, Acer mono is very attractive to ALB, hence the term sentinel, or trap tree.  The trees are even more attractive to the beetle than the Norway maple, thought by many to be their most preferred host here in the US.  This project aims to educate local nurserymen, arborists, maple syrup producers and the general public about specific ALB host trees and the application of sentinel tree surveying techniques. The concept is a tool that uses susceptible host trees, in this case A. mono trees, to help attract ALB beetles where they can be easily monitored.

The Department of Agriculture will be the lead participants in the project, with the State Entomologist serving as the principal investigator in partnership with Mary Reynolds State Urban Forester of DRED, the UNH Cooperative Extension Service and the NH Plant Growers Association. Last season, trees were planted in city parks, near town offices, on private school grounds, urban forestry centers and in private and State University experimental nurseries. These plantings were highly publicized and helped familiarize nurserymen, landscapers, arborists and the general public about this particular method of monitoring for ALB.

This season we hope to expand the number of planting sites beginning with the Rocks, in Bethlehem, the site of the New Hampshire’s Maple Producer's Museum. The trees will continue to serve as a focal point for outreach and education sessions on Asian Longhorned Beetle. New this season will be signs posted near each tree planting, illustrating the biology of the Asian Longhorned Beetle and ways to identify and detect their presence in host trees. The signs will provide information on the growth characteristics of Acer mono trees and their role as sentinel trees or early detection devices along with an ALB toll free telephone number (866 702-9938).        

The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food personnel will also participate in several ALB educational meetings and outreach programs for the purpose of educating the general public and green industry professionals about all aspects of ALB, including the sentinel tree program. Information on the sentinel tree project will be available at the NH Maple Producers Association summer meeting on Saturday, July 17th 2010 at the Rocks Estate, Bethlehem, NH.

If you would like more information on the sentinel tree program, please contact Tom Durkis, NH State Entomologist, at or (603) 271-2561.