The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) has made news across the United States. These beetles came to America from China, living in wood turned into shipping material. At first the beetles invaded urban areas, where hardwood trees were in limited supply—Chicago was able to declare itself ALB-free in 2006. But right now there is bad news in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Toronto—infestations have erupted in the area’s hardwood forests, and these beetles, while bad at flying, are very good at killing trees.
Clint McFarland’s job? Stop the ALB at any cost. How do you balance the needs of residents, the impact to the environment, and an invasive species primed to wipe out entire forests? It takes the help of everyday people, such as children playing baseball at a playground, teams of beetle-sniffing dogs, and science-minded people (bug scientists and tree doctors) to eradicate this invasive pest.
With ostentatious striped antennae and an iridescent blue sheen, the Asian longhorned beetle is "a stunner," as Burns puts it. But looks can kill: the insect, introduced to the U.S. in recent decades, is massively destructive, chewing up many of America's hardwood forests. Photographs of the species, trees pockmarked by the beetle's "exit holes," maps, and details about scientists' efforts to remove infested trees create a narrative that unfolds like a detective story. In her third contribution to the Scientists in the Field series, Burns delivers a fascinating look at the origins of an invasive species and efforts to combat the damage it causes. Ages 10 14.