Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) – Newly Detected Infestation Shows Spread within Ohio

ALB profile jpg

On November 18, Ohio authorities and APHIS announced the discovery of Asian longhorned beetle- infested trees in a section of Clermont County previously thought to be free of the insect. (The press release is not yet posted to the web; go here to see the most recent information).

The center of the newly discovered infestation is within the Williamsburg Township portion of the East Fork Wildlife Area, south of Clover Road. Tree inspection crews will continue to survey the area to determine the extent of the infestation. Any trees found to be infested will be removed as part of the eradication effort. Also, authorities will expand the ALB quarantine to include areas near the new infestation. When available, a map of the regulated areas will be posted at

This setback reminds us how difficult it is to contain or eradicate this insect.

ALB was first discovered in Tate Township in Clermont County, Ohio, in June 2011. That quarantine currently covers a 61-square miles area.  According to the October 28 APHIS electronic newsletter, more than 2 million trees in the quarantine zone have been surveyed. The survey has detected 18,614 infested trees since 2011. 87,151 trees have been removed;  Of these, 17,995 were infested and 69,156 were deemed at high-risk of either already being infested or likely to become infested in the immediate future.

Status of ALB in Other States

Massachusetts   ALB was first detected in Worcester in 2008. The quarantine covers 110 square miles. At least 35,870 trees have been removed in the Commonwealth.

New York  ALB was first detected in Queens in August 1996. APHIS and the state continue efforts to eradicate ALB from three separate infestations in Queens, Brooklyn, and Amityville.  The quarantine covers a total of 137 square miles.  The number of infested Trees for the entire New York program is 7,082.  The number of trees removed is 23,731. Outbreaks in several sites have been declared eradicated:

  • Islip (Suffolk County) in 2011;
  • Manhattan  and Staten Island in 2013.

In 2013, the Amityville area infestation was found to be larger than previously known.

The total number of trees removed in the Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio programs was 146,000. However, this is not the total for all the damage caused by the Asian longhorned beetle.

ALB outbreaks in Illinois (Chicago) and New Jersey were eradicated earlier, and their removals are not included in the total given above.

In Illinois, according to Haack et al. 2012, 1,771 trees were removed and  286,227 were treated with systemic pesticides (imidacloprid).

In New Jersey (again, according to Haack et al. 2009,  21,981 infested and high-risk trees were removed.  Another  480,574 trees were treated. This total is not complete since the program had not yet succeeded in eradicating the ALB in New Jersey at the time of writing.

The total from all programs is 169,752.

The risk of new introductions remains.

  • During fiscal years 2010 – 2016, Customs (CBP) detected tree-killing pests in 4,984 shipments – an average of 807 shipments each year. (For the 2015 report, go here)
  • An analysis by Haack et al. (2014) concluded that one tenth of one percent of the wood packaging entering the U.S. after adoption of ISPM#15 still contained a tree-killing pest. Since the U.S. imports approximately 25 million shipping containers each year, and about half of these contain wood packaging, an “approach rate” of 0.1% equals 13,000 containers harboring pests that probably enter the country each year. That is 35 potential pest arrivals per day.
  • Customs send samples of intercepted wood packaging to an APHIS laboratory where the insect larvae are grown to adulthood and identified. The APHIS lab has received 1,068 insects from April 2012 through August 2016, taken from 786 separate interceptions of non-compliant wood packaging. Six of the insects were Asian longhorned beetles.

APHIS also detected 69 other pests in wood packaging sent from China.

The United States and Canada began requiring wood packaging from China to be treated in December 1998. (See my discussion of this regulation in Fading Forests II here.  Since the Customs data begin in 2010, we can see that 11 to 16 years after the rule governing Chinese wood packaging went into effect, we are still receiving wood packaging with pests from that country.

Also, 700 pests arrived from 36 other countries, led by Mexico, Turkey, and Ukraine (see presentation here; search for “Nadel”)

What are APHIS & CBP doing about these flagrant violations of existing rules? Each violation exposes our forests to additional pest attack and our citizens to higher costs – either in local or federal taxes or personal costs to remove trees — as well as to mental anguish and health impacts.

The evidence is in. APHIS and Customs should tighten enforcement of ISPM#15 by:

  • Prohibiting imports in solid wood packaging (boards) from foreign suppliers which have a record of repeated violations over the 10 years ISPM#15 has been in effect. (It’s been 16 years for exporters from Hong Kong and mainland China).  A reasonable number of violations should trigger this prohibition – perhaps eight over the entire period.

The U.S. should allow imports from those suppliers that are contained in other types of packaging materials, including plastic, metals, fiberboards …

  • Fining an importer for each new shipment found to be out of compliance with ISPM#15 if the foreign supplier of that shipment has a record of repeated violations (but fewer than the number that would trigger a ban) over the 10 years ISPM#15 has been in effect (16 years for exporters from Hong Kong & mainland China).  The number of violations needed to trigger the fine might be five over the entire period – not just in one year.
  • Ensuring that exporting countries understand that foreign suppliers that change their names or take other steps to obscure their past import records will be prosecuted for fraud. This penalty should be severe so as to deter deliberate attempts to avoid the consequences of past actions.



Haack, R.A., F. Herard, J. Sun, J.J. Turgeon. 2009. Managing Invasive Populations of Asian Longhorned Beetle and Citrus Longhorned Beetle: A Worldwide Perspective.  Annu. Rev. Entomol. 2010. 55:521-46.

Haack, R. A., K. O. Britton, E. G. Brockerhoff, J. F. Cavey, L. J. Garrett, M. Kimberley, F. Lowenstein, A. Nuding, L. J. Olson, J. Turner, and K. N. Vasilaky. 2014. Effectiveness of the international phytosanitary standard ISPM no. 15 on reducing wood borer infestation rates in wood packaging material entering the United States. Plos One 9:e96611.


Posted by Faith Campbell

Firewood: Important Progress — and a Troubling Stalemate


After years of work, the combined efforts of many staff at federal agencies and non-profits have succeeded in placing a firewood alert message on the website for all of the 3,163 federal  campgrounds managed by the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, and Corps of Engineers for which visitors can reserve a spot in advance. Only 43 federal reserveable campgrounds remain without messaging. These are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

As of October 2016, visitors reserving campgrounds through the services of Reserve America or for any National parks, National forests, or Army Corps reservoirs will find new information in the “Know before you go” section – a message about not moving firewood.

The messages vary somewhat  by agency, but basically say:  “Don’t move firewood!”  They often add “buy firewood at or near your destination and burn it on-site.”  Some messages include a brief explanation about the aim — to prevent or limit spread of invasive tree-killing pests. Some include a message that some states regulate firewood movement. There is a link to either the national program — – or to the pertinent state program, e.g., the California Firewood Task Force for National Forest campgrounds in Region 5.

Some federal campgrounds do not use the system and therefore require separate efforts to improve firewood messaging. This includes several popular water-based recreation sites in the central southern states, such as the Arkansas River National Recreation Area and Oachita National Forest. Many states in this region also do not regulate firewood. [See my earlier blog contrasting management of firewood with management of boats and attached  mussels or aquatic plants here and the article by Frank Koch and colleagues, referenced below.]

Those who succeeded in achieving the widespread adoption of this outreach program deserve our thanks and praise! They worked long and hard for this.


On a Less Positive Note…

Unfortunately, efforts to put a firewood certification program into place appear to have stalled.

In March 2010, in response to increasing concern across the country, APHIS issued a first-ever firewood strategy, with a number of important elements.  It proposed the following:

Outreach Strategies:

  1. State and Federal agencies should convene a communications steering committee.
  2. Develop an online hub of firewood outreach materials.
  3. Prioritize the outreach activities.
  4. Use diverse methods to get consistent messages out about the risk of moving firewood.
  5. Support the voluntary and regulatory efforts.

Voluntary Strategies:

  1. Large-scale producers and retailers adopt best management practices.
  2. National producers and retailers adopt an industry-run national certification program with labeling and recordkeeping requirements based on best management practices.
  3. Public and private campgrounds make local or treated firewood available.
  4. Firewood consumers and small-scale local producers adopt best management practices.

Regulatory Strategies:

  1. APHIS should promulgate regulations for the interstate movement of firewood as soon as possible with requirements for labeling, recordkeeping and treatment based on best management practices.
  2. States should publish intrastate movement regulations with requirements similar to the Federal regulations for labeling, recordkeeping and treatment as needed. Moving firewood 50 miles or less would be exempt from intrastate regulations provided this does not violate any quarantine that may be in place.
  3. State, Federal, and private parks, forests and campgrounds should institute policies that encourage campers to use local firewood and to not move firewood out of the local area.

What has been done over the six and one-half years since the Strategy was released?

There has been tremendous progress on the outreach and voluntary strategies, with the Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood program providing support and advice.  However, these voluntary programs are inadequate without regulatory backup.

There has been less progress on the more formal certification and regulatory strategies proposed in 2010.

Geoff Friedman – a firewood producer based in northern California – reports that he has developed the software for a certification program and worked with producers to get their acceptance. However, implementing the required wood treatments and – especially – staffing a third-party certification program – would raise the cost of firewood by 50%, according to Friedman. The major retailers which sell packaged firewood – the “big box stores” – are not willing to adopt the program because of this increased cost. In the absence or regulations requiring treatment of firewood, the program has stalled. (In the East, many states already regulate firewood. However, those states’ treatment requirements vary. Friedman seems to believe that this challenge can be worked out.)

APHIS has not adopted national regulations and does not appear to be on the verge of doing so. I believe APHIS wanted to tie its regulations to the certification program that has now stalled. Eleven of the 50 states currently have their own state-specific regulations limiting the movement of firewood from other states into their state. Only two more states are known to be potentially considering legislation in 2017. Many — but not all — federal agencies have now engaged on discouraging visitors from bringing their own firewood (see above). Some National parks actually restrict visitors bringing firewood to wood that is certified by USDA – including the park with the highest number of visitors, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, Yosemite and other National parks in California are not among them. And these are vulnerable to goldspotted oak borer and  the polyphagous or Kuroshio shot hole borers (see species write-ups here).

Worse, APHIS is actively moving toward dropping regulations trying to prevent spread of the emerald ash borer (see species write-up here). APHIS argues that with EAB now present in 30 states (although in many cases, in only one or a few counties), it is too late to try to prevent the insect’s further spread. The regulatory effort is using resources that would be better put to other strategies, such as expanding the biocontrol program. I concede that funding is tight, and likely to be cut further; and that other approaches – and other pests! – need attention.

However, the legal and logical foundation for nearly all state regulations governing firewood is the emerald ash borer. The promised federal regulation and certification program also rest primarily on the EAB risk. Many states – as well as APHIS – must base their regulation on one or more specific pests. Will these state regulations and promised federal programs survive the loss of the federal EAB regulatory program?

In any case, we are a long way from what is needed to get control of the firewood pathway. Each of the “lower 48” states should have an external quarantine. Hawai`i might need one too, if it imports firewood. (Hawai`i does import other types of risky wood products, including Christmas trees.)  Also, all 50 states need internal restrictions on the distance firewood is moved. So far, only a fraction have them.

The incoming Trump Administration strongly objects to regulations, so it is highly unlikely that we will see progress on these matters in the near future.



Koch, F.H., D. Yemshanov, R.D. Magarey, and W.D. Smith. 2012. Dispersal of Invasive Forest Insects via Recreational Firewood: A Quantitative Analysis J. Econ. Entomol. 105(2): 438-450 (2012);


Posted by Faith Campbell

Leigh Greenwood helped check the facts and dates mentioned in this blog


The Latest on Phytophthoras


Phytopthora ramorum on tanoak in California; F.T. Campbell

Nine eastern states are participating in the 2016 USDA National Phytophthora ramorum Early Detection Survey of Forests. Those states are AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, PA, SC, TN, and TX. As of late August, streams in four locations were P. ramorum-positive. Three are in AL, one in MS. All had tested positive in previous years. Also, all have been associated with previously positive nurseries.  (Reported in the California Oak Mortality Task Force newsletter for September.) It is reassuring that no new positive locations have been detected. However, on what substrate is the pathogen persisting? Scientists agree that the pathogen does not survive in water (although it is reliably detected by testing in water) but must survive on some plant material – perhaps roots.

 P. ramorum also persists in nurseries. Seven California nurseries are participating in the APHIS federal P. ramorum program under which they are allowed to ship host plants interstate. Positive plants have been detected in two of them. One of these nurseries is undergoing the Confirmed Nursery Protocol clean-up. The other has completed the cleanup and has been allowed to resume shipping plants interstate. In both cases, the infected plants were not from the five “high-risk” genera which are the focus of monitoring for the regulatory system — Camellia, Kalmia, Pieris, Rhododendron, and Viburnum. (Reported in the California Oak Mortality Task Force newsletter for September.) I expressed concern about this too-narrow focus in a blog posted in July 2015 –


I have written about the widespread presence of various Phytophthoras in nurseries in blogs in April (for Europe ) and July (for California ). New publications add to this picture.


Junker and colleagues (see references below) report the detection of 15 Phytophthora species in two commercial woody ornamental nurseries (presumably in Europe, since the authors are Europeans). Twelve of the species are previously described but the DNA of three isolates did not match any of the known species.  Detections were highest in puddles on nursery pathways; followed by plant residues;, wind-carried leaves; and water and sediment from  runoff. The plant samples showed very low infection rates – a disturbing finding given the reliance until recently on inspection of plants to detect the pathogen. (Reported in the California Oak Mortality Task Force newsletter for September.)


New Phytophthora confirmed in U.S.

The United States has the first official confirmed detection of the pathogen Phytophthora quercina. It was found associated with oak trees planted on restoration sites in central coastal California. Although the California detection is the first officially confirmed detection of the pathogen in the U.S., a P. quercina ‘like’ organism has been reported to be associated with oak decline in forests in the Midwest. P. quercina is a pathogen associated with oak decline across Europe. It was rated as the species of highest concern in a USDA Plant Epidemiology and Risk Analysis Laboratory (PERAL) report. Another pathogen, P. tentaculata, was rated fifth on the same list. It was recently found in association with multiple native plant species in California’s native plant nurseries (see my July blog, linked above). See also California Oak Mortality Task Force newsletter at



Rapid Response Might Have Contained SOD – When will authorities learn this lesson?


Earlier this year, experts on modeling  the epidemiology of plant disease concluded that the sudden oak death epidemic in California could have been slowed considerably if aggressive management actions – backed by “a very high level of investment” – had started in 2002. By then, there was sufficient knowledge about the disease to guide actions. Management actions should have focused on the leading edge of the epidemic (admittedly, that edge has proven difficult to detect). The study is by American and British scientists (Cunniffe, Cobb, Meentemeyer, Rizzo, and Gilligan). See reference and news report below.


The authors’ estimate documents the high costs of inaction.  This is an important lesson – which has been repeated many times. If only officials from California and APHIS would take this to heart regarding several other forest pests. These include the polyphagous and Kuroshio shot hole borers and even the goldspotted oak borer (all described here).




Cunniffe, N.J., R.C. Cobb, R.K. Meentemeyer, D.M. Rizzo, and C.A. Gilligan. Modeling when, where, and how to manage a forest epidemic, motivated by SOD in CalifPNAS, May 2016 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1602153113


Junker, C., Goff, P., Wagner, S., and Werres, S. 2016. Occurrence of Phytophthora in commercial nursery production. Plant Health Progress. 17:64-75.



Posted by Faith Campbell