Our most recent aliens are not actually at my house yet (and hopefully never). They were discovered in Worcester, which is about an hour west of us. It hasn't been long since they were first spotted in August of last year though the estimate is that they have been in the area for at least five years based on how far it has traveled.
Imagine huge black spotted beetles about 3-4 cm long. Now imagine their young have a taste for the inside of your maples trees and you live in New England, the land of beautiful fall foliage and maple syrup. It is not a pretty thing to think about.
(Photo: Donald Duerr, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org)
These beetles bore into maples slowly killing them over several years. There are other trees that are susceptible - birch, willow, elm and horse chestnut - but Worcester's trees are predominantly maple.
There have been previous infestations in isolated spots around the country. It gets here from China. Our love for imported goods is what brings it in since it hitches a ride on wooden material, like packing crates and pallets. In the US the control for this insect in the past (and for here) has been eradication.
Luckily it is a lazy insect. It doesn't fly far. Usually it is a home body and sticks to the same area it was born in. It doesn't travel more than a mile and a half and the adults don't over winter. They die after the first frost, though their eggs live on. The most important thing for us to do is not to transport it out of its area via plants, firewood and the like. Currently they have a delineated area that is being quarantined.
The second thing is to find all of the infected trees. Then after the first hard frost (so the adults don't decide to travel more) cut them down and burn them inside the infected area. Infected trees have dig spots in them which can be identified. This is where the adults lay their eggs.
It is a very scary infestation. Much scarier than the one I talked about yesterday. Though it has been eradicated from the US during other infestations, we have never had an infestation found before that is so close to heavily forested areas. The possibility for this getting out of control is much greater than in the past, so if you live in Massachusetts, especially near the Worcester area, please learn how to spot it and what it looks like and take a look around your yard. In the beetle's native area, the trees are all pretty resistant to the beetle. In the US this is not the case.
The photo above is of a dead beetle. It actually has little blue socks when it is alive. If you want to see lots of photos so you can identify it and its dig spots, the UMass Extension has a nice PDF (warning the file is large). It also tells you how to report a find of the beetle on the last slide.