By taking a few minutes to inspect trees for unusual insect damage this month, Pennsylvanians can help safeguard the state from a non-native, invasive threat to the state’s forests.

“Healthy forests directly correlate to healthy waterways. Healthy waterways mean healthy communities and can directly impact the health of our economies. To maintain the health of each of these, we must be vigilant and watch for the Asian longhorned beetle,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

“Because it is similar in appearance to more common beetles, it’s important to accurately identify the pest and where it was discovered,” he added. “We’re asking residents to collect and submit suspected Asian longhorned beetles and note the location in which they were found.”

Governor Tom Wolf proclaimed August Asian Longhorned Beetle Awareness Month in recognition of the danger the beetles pose for multiple Pennsylvania hardwood species. The United States Department of Agriculture proclaimed August Tree Check Month as part of a national campaign urging people to take 10 minutes to check their trees for signs of the Asian longhorned beetle. August was chosen since adult beetles are most active during the summer and early fall.

The adult Asian longhorned beetle is three-quarters to one-and-a-quarter inches long, has a jet-black glossy body with white spots on each wing, and long, black and bluish-white antennae.

If citizens suspect a sighting of Asian longhorned beetle, call the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s toll-free pest hotline at 1-866-253-7198 or e-mail badbug@state.pa.us.

Residents can also collect a sample and ship it to one of Pennsylvania’s 67 county Penn State Extension offices, to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture headquarters in Harrisburg, or to one of the department’s six other regional office locations.

Many species of wood-boring insects, including the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer, can be spread through transport of infested firewood and logs, campers and homeowners are encouraged to use only locally-harvested firewood, burn all of it on-site, and not carry it to new locations.

Beetle larvae tunnel through tree stems causing girdling that cuts off the flow of nutrients, eventually killing the tree and resulting in coarse sawdust at the base of infested parts of the tree. Adult beetles leave round exit holes in the tree after they emerge. There is no known practical control for this wood-boring pest other than destroying infested trees.

The beetles attack and eventually kill many species of trees, but prefer maple species. Soft (red maple) and hard (sugar maple) trees make up more than 25 percent of Pennsylvania’s hardwood forests. The beetle also attacks species of ash, birch, buckeye, elm, horsechestnut, poplar and willow trees. As much as $10 billion in lumber and pulp production and $3 million in maple syrup sales are at risk.