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The Missouri Department of Conservation is urging Missourians to check trees for Asian longhorned beetle.

MDC officials said the invasive, wood-boring insect can feed on more than 20 different species of trees common to Missouri. It has the potential to destroy millions of acres of trees across the U.S., decimating both rural and community forests.

Missouri currently has no known Asian longhorned beetle infestations, but populations of this destructive species can be found in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and South Carolina. In order to control the spread of the insect, thousands of trees have been destroyed in each of those states. One way to prevent a local infestation is to not move firewood long distances from where it was harvested, officials said.

The best time of year to look for signs of the beetle is late summer, when tree damage caused by the pest is most visible. The beetle's preferred host tree is red maple, but it will attack many other trees, including boxelder, buckeye, willow, elm, ash, birch, sycamore, mimosa, mountain ash, golden raintree and most maple species.

The beetle can be identified with these marks: large, black, shiny bodies and white spots; and long antennae with black and white stripes.

Signs and symptoms of an ALB infestation in trees include: large, round exit holes; fine wood shavings collecting around the trunk or on branches; and leaves on some branches showing fall colors early.

To report suspected beetles and infested trees, send photos to MDC's Forest Health staff at [email protected]

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