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New Pest Threatens Kentucky Hardwood Stands

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A new pest threatens Kentucky’s hardwood trees.  This one is called the Asian Longhorned Beetleand has destroyed tens of thousands of trees in the northeastern United States, Ohio and Illinois.

“It’s about an inch to an inch-and-a-half long, it has very long antennas. They’re actually longer than the insect’s body. They’re banded black and white, the antenna is. And then the body of it itself is a jet black body with random white spots.  And, that’s what we’re wanting folks to keep their eye out for,” said Rebecca Blue, who’s a deputy under secretary with the U-S Department of Agriculture.

Blue says they’ve not been spotted in the Commonwealth.   However, there’s plenty here for them to eat.

“There’s 13 different types of hardwood trees that the Asian Longhorn Beetle goes after. Those include ash, elm, maple, those are just a couple of the ones that they’re targeting, which is a lot of what we’ve got in Kentucky,” said Blue.

If spotted early, Blue says the infestation can be isolated and destroyed. 

“In Boston, Massachusetts, there was a detection, we got in there, only found six trees that were infected, we were able to remove those, and now we haven’t found any in Boston since. So, it’s just an example of early detection really can go a long ways in making sure we’re quick to respond,” said Blue.

Blue says the beetle is most active in August and she asks Kentuckians to watch out for the migrating insect.  They kill trees like maples, elms and ash by tunneling into their heartwood.

Charles Compton is a 30 year veteran of public radio, who has been news director at WEKU for five years, has won numerous awards for investigative journalism, soft features, science reporting, and newscasts from the Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists and Public Radio News Directors, Inc.
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