A new insect pest has been found in Ohio.
The Asian longhorned beetle a major threat to Ohio forests has been confirmed in Clermont County, 30 miles southeast of Cincinnati, federal and state officials announced Friday.
Surveys are under way to determine the extent of the infestation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Agriculture said, and eradication plans are being developed.
The pest was found June 9 in three damaged maple trees in Bethel by an alert landowner. Samples were collected for analysis, federal and state inspectors visited the site Thursday and the beetle was confirmed Friday.
''I had hoped that Asian longhorned beetle would never be detected in Ohio,'' said Dan Herms, an entomologist with the Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster.
The pest is a serious threat to Ohio because it has a wide range of host trees, including maples, ''which are among the most abundant species in Ohio's natural and urban forests,'' said Herms, an expert in wood-boring insects.
Federal and state officials said the beetle's financial impact on Ohio could top $200 billion, if it is not controlled.
The pest threatens Ohio's timber and nursery industries and maple syrup production and could affect Ohio's colorful fall foliage.
In addition to maple, the pest from eastern Asia threatens birch, horse chestnut, poplar, willow, elm and ash.
The beetle has a large, distinctive body that is 1 to 1.5 inches long, not including antennae. The white-banded antennae can be as long as the body in females and almost twice the body length in males.
The pest kills deciduous hardwood trees by tunneling into large branches and the trunk.
Ohio is the fifth state where the beetle has been found. It was first discovered in the United States in 1996, probably arriving in wooden shipping crates or pallets.
Eradication efforts are under way in Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. It has been eradicated in Chicago.
Signs of infestation include perfectly round exit holes (three-eighths to one-half inch in diameter; pockmarks on trunks from females laying eggs; frass (wood shavings or saw dust); early fall coloration; dead leaves or branches; and running sap at egg-laying sites.
The Ohio State University Extension has set up a hot line at 513-946-8980.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.