Asian longhorn beetles have been eradicated in the UK after six years of trapping and monitoring – Science Report


The Asian Longhorn Beetle has been eradicated in the UK after six years, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

It posed a serious threat to the timber and fruit production industries in the UK and is believed to have originated from China.  

The announcement comes after a project designed to trap and monitor them by the UK government following the 2012 outbreak.  

The infestation is thought to have originated from imported wood packaging and led to thousands of trees felled in Kent. 

The spotted black and white beetle, which has antennae twice the length of its body, infects trees during its breeding season in August and September. 

Following the outbreak of the tree-killing beetles the UK government warned they could wipe out thousands of acres of woodland.  

The bugs, which are capable of flying for more than a mile at a time, were first spotted in Kent and later spread to 2,116 trees throughout the county. 

The insects were labelled a ‘serious threat’ to natural woodlands and farms as they are able to bore through foliage, disrupting timber and fruit production in the UK.  

The pest feeds on a range of broadleaved trees, such as birch and oak trees, while its larvae feed on the wood of living trees, boring galleries – or tunnels – in the trunks and branches.

It was thought the bugs were accidentally shipped to Britain in wood used to package goods imported from China. 

The larvae live in living trees but can also survive in the wood of freshly felled trees although they do not live in dead wood, such as that found in houses and homes.   

These are capable of penetrating all the way from the outer layer to the heart wood, and a severe infestation can kill the tree. 

The Government thought it had brought the problem under control until researchers recently discovered the bugs in Sussex and in Hampshire. 

Out of over 2,000 trees felled and investigated, 66 trees contained Asian longhorn beetle. 

The most frequent host has been identified as sycamore: 70 per cent of the total larvae found were found in sycamore; and 98 per cent of the adults found had emerged from sycamore trees.  

Nicola Spence, Defra Chief Plant Health Officer said: ‘Asian Longhorn Beetle would pose a serious threat to our treescape if allowed to establish, so it is great news that it has been officially eradicated in the UK.

‘Strong biosecurity relies on everyone playing their part – in our forests, at borders or when buying plants.

‘It is important that we continue to raise awareness of the simple things that people can do to protect against pests and diseases, such as sourcing plants from a reputable nursery.’


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