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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Beware of impostors

Look-alikes might lead to false alarms

Asian Longhorned Beatle - be on the lookout
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management wants residents to be on the look-out for Asian Longhorned Beetles (ALB) in Rhode Island, but also to be aware of the White Spotted Pine Sawyer (WSPS). 

The WSPS is a native beetle in Rhode Island, commonly mistaken for ALB. The size, shape and color closely resemble the ALB, but they have different habits and are not generally considered pests.

Like the ALB, the WSPS are also wood-boring beetles. They are found on dead or dying conifers, most commonly found on Eastern White Pine, but can be found on a variety of softwood. Larvae are found in dead wood, cut logs, and fell trees, and adults feed on the needles and twigs of living conifers. They are generally smaller than the ALB, dull black to dark brown in color, and the antennae may or may not have black and white striping. 

This is the White-Spotted Pine Sawyer - not considered a pest, though that's
in the eye of the beholder
The most notable difference is a white heart-shaped spot directly below the thorax, at the top of its wings. These insects are out and about during this time of year – May through early July – and the DEM is receiving many reports of sightings. These insects are generally not considered pests.

While keeping on the lookout out for the ALB, it is important to note that their habits differ from those of the WSPS. The ALB is a dark, shiny black insect, usually ¾ to 1¼ inches large. 

The ALB is found on live hardwood trees, and has an active period of late July through September. It is unlikely, but not impossible, for the ALB to be found during the months of late spring.

DEM encourages the public to contact the Department with any questions or concerns about the ALB. While Rhode Island does have some look-alike insects, proper identification from a DEM representative is recommended when unsure of a suspicious insect.

Residents who have questions or wish to obtain proper insect identification should contact Liz Lopes-Duguay in DEM's Division of Agriculture at 222-2781 ext. 4510 or via email at or Paul Ricard in DEM's /Division of Forest Environment at 568-2013 ext.17 or by email at

In order to provide proper identification, residents are asked to capture the insect and email a digital photograph if possible to the individuals listed above. Possible sightings of ALB can be reported electronically by accessing the Asian Longhorned Beetle Reporting Form on the DEM website at