INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – By now, many Hoosiers have heard of the emerald ash borer, the invasive beetle that’s decimating ash trees nationwide. As if those aren't bad enough, scientists say a far more invasive species may be headed towards Indiana.
The Asian long-horned beetle has already been documented in Illinois and Ohio. Like the ash borer, it often infests ash trees; however it also creates “host” trees out of Maple, Willow, Elm, Birch and others.
The beetle is black with white spots, is close to two inches in length and has long antennae, hence the name. It leaves round, dime-sized exit holes and oval egg sites on its bark. It also leaves wood shavings on a tree’s bark or base.
“These are all trees that are native to our wood lots so if that one gets loose it could potentially destroy the entire forest ecosystem,” said Megan Abraham, state entomologist for The Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Abraham says the beetle is transported through “outside wood sources” such as firewood, trees or lumber purchased out of state. She says it’s important for Hoosiers to keep a close eye out for the beetle if they plan on making either of those purchases.
“I think that most residents here in Indiana are ware of emerald ash borer and the damage it can do so I think more people are becoming conscious that firewood poses this threat which is fantastic,” she said.
At places like the Eagle Creek Earth Discovery Center, officials are hoping education can help prevent the Asian long-horned beetle from ever coming to Indiana.
‘We can be educating all of these urban land owners on what to be looking at on their property, and what the impacts can be for our whole community in Indiana,” said naturalist Jennifer Boyce .
There is a chance that the beetle will never find a home in Indiana. However the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has a hotline for residents to call should they feel they’ve spotted one. That number is 1-866-663-9684.