Weather Alert

Iowans urged to be on lookout for Asian longhorned beetle

Asian longhorned beetle (USDA photo)

DES MOINES — This is the time of year when a destructive insect called the Asian longhorned beetle emerges from inside the trees where it burrows.

Iowans are being urged to give their trees a close look for signs of infestation so they can take action, if needed. Rhonda Santos, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, says the troublesome bug usually appears now, in late summer. “Now is the best time to look for and reports signs of the Asian longhorned beetle in your backyard and in your neighborhood,” Santos says. “This wood-boring beetle attacks many types of trees, and is a threat to our shade trees, recreational areas, and our forests.”

The pest typically attacks hardwood trees, including maples, elms, birches, and willows, and once a tree is infested, it usually can’t recover. Santos says the distinctive-looking creature is about one-and-a-half inches long and leaves clear signs if it’s in your trees.
“The beetle is easy to recognize with their black and white antennae, shiny black body, and six legs,” Santos says. “Beetles create round holes and scars in the bark, sawdust-like material around the tree, and can cause branches to fall.”

The beetle is not native to the U.S. and has few-to-no natural predators. Santos encourages Iowans to take five minutes and give your trees a close inspection for those round holes or sawdust. “If you see any of these signs, take photos and even capture the suspicious insects to help the U.S.D.A. with identification,” she says.

Iowans are frequently warned not to move firewood, because in this instance, they might be unknowingly spreading Asian longhorned beetles, since the insects can hide inside wood. If you spot one, report it to the U.S.D.A. online at or call the agency’s hotline: 866-702-9938. The beetle was first spotted in the U.S. in New York in 1996 and spread quickly. It’s one of a group of invasive pests and plant diseases that costs the nation some 40-billion dollars each year in losses to trees, plants, and crops.

Connect With Us