Unwelcome imports

The U.S. woodworking industry is being invaded by imports, but Iím not talking about tools. Iím talking about imports of the six-legged kind.

Woodshop News has reported on the spread of the emerald ash borer for years Ė in fact, weíre nearing the 10-year anniversary of its discovery in Michigan in 2002. In 2001, not a single tree had been affected. To date, this Asian invader has killed many tens of millions of ash trees in 15 states. Itís also been reported in both Ontario and Quebec.

Invasive species dangerous to forests and the lumber industry arenít new, or even rare: The U.S. Forest Service notes that there are several hundred such pests, but the emerald ash borer, along with a few others, is among the most dangerous.

One of those others is the Asian long-horned beetle. Until recently, the beetle has been reported in only a handful of states Ė New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts Ė but a story in my local paper this morning reported that the beetle has now been found in Ohio, less than 200 miles from me. Like the ash borer, this unwanted Asian import is spreading.

But unlike the emerald ash borer, which is very selective in its dining preferences in that it only chows down on ash, the long-horned beetle isnít nearly so fussy. It seems equally ready to destroy maple, buckeye, willow, elm, birch and sycamore among its favorites, but has also been found in poplar, hackberry and, yes, ash. When it can find an empty table, I suppose.

The Forest Service and other agencies are working hard to detect these pests and track their spread. Oddly, however, agencies like the Ohio Department of Natural Resources note that most of the initial sightings of these insects are discovered not by the agencies, but by homeowners.

With that in mind, why not take a few minutes to visit the Forest Serviceís invasive-species page on their website and learn what these invaders look like.† If you see one, contact your local office of the natural resources department for your state, or your local extension office ASAP.

Till next time,



  • John Olson says:

    A.J. – What does the forest service do when they find these invaders – is there a remedy, or do they just study and document the occurance?

  • A. J. Are we exporting equally invasive bugs in asia? I am just horrified over the numbers of imported species that we seem to be dealing with and all seem to be of asian origins. I just wonder if we are sending any of our bugs their way and if they are having the same devistating effects.

  • Chuck says:

    I visited the web site as you suggested – while the reporting of the problem is clear, there seems to be no available solutions. Or, at least no reported solutions. But I read some years back that enemies of the pests are often introduced to reduce the pest population. Perhaps there is some expert in this field that reads this column who could enlighten us?

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