Being a member of the Richland County Master Gardeners group, I was at the August meeting near the Richland County Fairgrounds. Love the opportunity to hear exciting speakers and report on what I hear during these meetings. During this meeting in the beginning of August I had a chance to meet the new head gardener at Kingwood. Mark was an excellent speaker. This new leader at Kingwood brought us some bad news about new and older insect threats that are facing our forests.

In June 2011, the Asian long-horned beetle was discovered in Tate Township in Clermont County. On July 13, 2011, USDA APHIS first issued a federal order that mirrors the regulated boundaries of the state. ODA and APHIS began their work together to eradicate the Asian long-horned beetle. There are no known predators for this insect in Ohio and the Asian long-horned beetle threatens the $2.5 billion hardwood maple standing timber and the $5 billion nursery industry which employs nearly 240,000 people.

Ohio is the fifth state to have discovered this serious pest inside its borders. I have some good news for you in that the Asian long-horned beetle was successfully eradicated in Illinois and parts of New Jersey. The Asian long-horned beetle or ALB also is being controlled in New York and Massachusetts. Local citizens report seeing infestations of ALB and they talk about controlling them. This control can happen in Ohio.

What I would hope is that you would become aware of what is going on with these insect threats and tell people about these pests if you encounter them. Be aware of potential controls. Do your best as to where you may have seen these pests as you may report these pests to officials. Don’t move firewood out of counties where you can find these insect pests.

The Asian long-horned beetle or Anoplophora glabripennis is a native to China and Korea or eastern Asia. Our maples, poplars, willow and elms are susceptible to A. glabripennis. Insect egg marks have been seen buckeye, alder, birch, hornbeam, beech, ash, cherry and katsura.

Asian long-horned beetles are very large insects with bodies that range from ½" up to 1.5" in length and antennae which can be as long as 1.6 inches. They are shiny black with 20 white spots on each wing cover and antennae conspicuously banded black and white and lay beside the body of the insect. These beetles can fly, but mostly only short distances. The upper section of the adults is whitish-blue. When you are looking at the markings on the wing covers and the pattern on the antennae you are looking at the key markings on this insect to distinguish it from other members of this insect family.

Adult females lay 45 to 62 eggs in their lifetime by chewing a small pit through the bark of the host tree to the cambium. This female insect lays a ¼ inch egg underneath the bark in each pit. These eggs will hatch in 13 to 54 days depending on temperature. Eggs that don’t hatch out before the frost will overwinter and hatch out in the spring. Larvae are cylindrical and can be as big as 2 inches long and ¼ inches wide. Over five life stages called instars that can take as long as two years the Asian long-horned beetle will bore through first the outer sap wood in the host and then go deeper into the heartwood. Beetle excrement can be found near the entrance where the eggs were laid. Each larva can consume 61.2 cubic inches.

The Asian long-horned beetle will pupate in the end of a larval tunnel in the sapwood and can occur in 12 to 50 days later and adults will chew out of the tree approximately one week after they mature into adults. The adults feed on leaf stems and chew through bark on small branches to feed on the cambium to get to the sap wood.

Fortunately, officials have not found Asian long-horned beetles outside of Tate Township near Cincinnati in Bethel, Ohio. But if you find yourself at East Fork State Park in Clermont County camping and burning up some firewood, don’t take the firewood home. If you make that mistake you may be caring this pest outside the infected area.

Have a good stroll through your garden this week as the season begins to turn down and you may begin cleaning your gardens of the debris. My plan is to be at the Ashland county fair this year under the grandstand. Remember that by cleaning your garden you may have a chance at removing diseases or pests from your garden. If you have any challenges in your garden, let me know at ewlarson546@yahoo.com, I’ll do the best I can to help. You can find my columns at www.ohealthyfoodcoop.org in blog form. Should be returning to this soon. Thank you for your participation in our column.

— Eric Larson, a Jeromesville-based landscape designer, writes the weekly A Stroll Through The Garden column.