Aug. 28 2017 03:17 PM

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources wants the state’s landscape contractors and property owners to be on the lookout for an invasive pest that could be a worse threat than the emerald ash borer (EAB). The Asian long-horned beetle has already been found to the west, in Illinois, and to the east in Ohio, and like EAB, it goes after ash trees.

Unlike EAB, this beetle also infests maples, willows, elms, birches and others, using them as hosts. It is easy to identify: it’s two inches long, has a black body with white spots, and gets its name from its long antennae. It leaves exit holes the size of a dime, and oval egg sites in the bark of host trees.

“The trees affected by the Asian long-horned beetle are native to our wood lots,” said Megan Abraham, Indiana state entomologist with the department. “So if one gets loose, it could potentially destroy the entire forest ecosystem.”

Like EAB, this pest can be transported to a new site via infected firewood, and experts have struggled to raise awareness among property owners. Still, Abraham is hopeful that the effects of EAB have done that job for them. “I think that most residents here in Indiana are aware of EAB and the damage it can do,” she said. “So I think more people are becoming conscious that firewood poses this threat, which is fantastic.”

“We can be educating all of these urban land owners about what to be looking at on their property, and what the impacts can be for our whole community in Indiana,” said naturalist Jennifer Boyce.