Exotic Pest of Concern

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The emerald ash borer was first discovered in the US in southeastern Michigan near Detroit. It was the summer of 2002 that this exotic beetle was found. It is thought to have arrived from Asia in solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships and airplanes.

Emerald ash borer attacks all species of ash native to the United States as well as native white fringetree. The four species of ash native to North Carolina include white ash, green ash, Carolina ash, and pumpkin ash. While green and white ash are occasionally planted as landscape trees in North Carolina, Carolina and pumpkin ash are limited to natural areas and woodlands. Ash wood is valued for its strength and flexibility. Tool handles and baseball bats are frequently make of ash.

The adult emerald ash beetles are metallic green and about ½ inch long. They nibble only on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Adults leave the tree in spring making a D-shaped exit hole in the bark. Heavy woodpecker damage on ash trees may be a sign of infestation.

Since 2002, the emerald ash borer has been found in 26 states including North Carolina. The summer of 2013 brought the discovery of this pest in four counties along the NC/VA state line:  Granville, Person, Vance and Warren. It is spread through natural dispersal and human-assistance by movement of infested materials. In 2015 the emerald ash borer was found in 14 additional counties in NC bringing the statewide total to 18 positive locations.

In September of 2015, our entire state was put under quarantine for the insect. The quarantine prohibits the movement of any ash material, the insect itself, and all hardwood firewood from quarantined areas into non-quarantined areas. Since the entire state in under quarantine, these articles can move freely within the state and into adjacent areas of eastern Tennessee and all of Virginia. These regulated articles cannot be moved into South Carolina because it is not under quarantine.

This year the emerald ash borer has been found in 3 additional North Carolina counties giving the state a total of 22 with positive locations. This insect has killed millions of ash trees in the U.S. and has the potential to eliminate the species from the landscape.

The North Carolina Forest Service Forest Health staff continues to monitor for the emerald ash borer. Several methods are used including monitoring with traps, searching for symptomatic ash trees and a Cerceris wasp biosurveillance program. The search continues. If you have ash trees and suspect emerald ash borer call the NCFS Forest Health staff at 800-206-9333 or contact them by email at newpest@ncagr.gov.

Written By

Photo of Peg GodwinPeg GodwinExtension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture (252) 527-2191 (Office) peg_godwin@ncsu.eduLenoir County, North Carolina
Posted on Jul 29, 2016
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