The first confirmed sighting of the Asian longhorn beetle in Edmonton happened in May after the insect crawled out of a pallet of wood in a warehouse.
Edmonton trees have dodged a bullet or rather a beetle.The first confirmed sighting of the Asian longhorned beetle in Edmonton happened in May after being spotted coming out of a pallet of wood in a warehouse, before getting the chance to ravage the city’s trees.The pesky bug has the potential to wreak havoc on elm and ash populations, although maple is its preferred meal.It was fortunate someone spotted the beetle so quickly, Mike Jenkins, a pest co-ordinator with the city said.“This is something we need lots of eyes out there looking for these insects,” he said. “All of the infestations in North America for this beetle, so far, have been found not by people like me … they’ve all been found by other people.”The city has approximately 298,000 publicly owned trees with green ash making up the majority followed by American elm and Blue spruce, according to the Urban Forest Management Plan.This is not the first time the beetle was spotted in Canada. The first reported case happened in 2003 in the Toronto area. Nearly 29,000 trees had to be destroyed to keep the insect from spreading. A second sighting was reported in 2013 and is currently being eradicated.The beetle is fairly distinct with its namesake long antenna and black colouring with white spots that appear like a star constellation. The insect measures at roughly 3.5 centimetres or about the size of a nickel.Jenkins said the beetle can go after 50 different species of trees but usually attack the same tree over and over.“Females will usually lay their eggs back on the same tree and keep hitting that tree until it’s dead,” he said. “You end up with a fairly large population within that one tree. So the infestation usually spreads fairly slowly and if you can find those early infested trees, you can actually take the population out fairly quickly.”Jenkins added pest control learned a lot from the situation with the emerald ash borer, another invasive species of insect. He said one of the problems with the emerald ash was no one was looking for it so it was allowed to spread in areas like southern Ontario and all of Michigan.Jenkins said it was a learning experience, which is why early detection is key.If anyone spots a possible Asian longhorn beetle or any other invasive species, they can report them by sending a picture and detailed information including date and location to 311 or emailing email@example.com@postmedia.comtwitter.com/jefflabine