The emerald ash borer beetle is an invasive insect species from Asia. It arrived in the U.S. over a decade ago, and has since spread to more than 20 states. This dangerous pest has already killed tens of millions of ash trees in North America and led to hundreds of millions of dollars of economic losses.
Of note, the insect has no natural predators in the U.S.
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Larvae of emerald ash borers eat ash trees
Entomologists point out that the emerald borer beetle itself is relatively harmless, it’s the larva that does all the harm to ash trees. The eggs of emerald ash borers are laid on ash trees, and the larvae dig under the bark of the trees and disrupt the systems that transport food and water, eventually killing the tree.
Expanding across New York
Joe Martins, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation in New York has announced the discovery of the emerald ash borer in two additional counties in the state. The discovery was made earlier this week.Martins said: “DEC deployed the trap that detected the EAB beetle as part of DEC’s continuing Slow Ash Mortality (SLAM) strategy, to slow the spread of EAB within the state and mitigate its economic and environmental impacts.”
The emerald ash borer was initially found back in 2009 in Cattaraugus County, New York. The insect pest has since invaded more than 24 different American counties. To date, most of the infested areas are small and localized, with over 98% of the New York’s forests still untouched.
However, there are over 900 million ash trees in New York alone, representing 7% of all the trees in New York state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that every ash tree in New York, in both urban and rural areas, is at risk because of the emerald ash borer invasion.
Tips for avoiding spreading the emerald ash borer
Emerald ash borer beetle adults are strong flyers, but typically only fly short distances up to 1/2 mile. This means that they don’t spread far on their own. It turns out that most new infestations are caused by people taking ash wood with EB larvae to an uninfested area.
Keep in mind that infested ash materials can include any part of an ash tree, including logs, stumps, branches of any size, composted or uncomposted chips, nursery stock and firewood (firewood is very high risk).