Invasive Emerald Ash Borer Beetle Detected in Boston

Emerald Ash Borer Credit: Marianne Prue, Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Division of Forestry, Bugwood.org

Emerald Ash Borer Credit: Marianne Prue, Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry, Bugwood.org

With emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) being detected in Boston it is virtually certain to be in Rhode Island by now. This has been some time coming, as the beetle has gradually expanded from its accidental introduction in the midwest in the late 1990’s. This beetle will be the end of wild ash trees in North America, and most ornamental ones, too, as only trees receiving constant systemic insecticide will survive.

Why so sure emerald ash borer is here? EAB is different from Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), that is also infesting right over the Mass. border. ALB is that other forest wrecker unwittingly imported among the packing materials of the orgy of Chinese imports we brought upon ourselves during the 1990’s. But ALB is a generalist feeder and so it’s dispersal mechanism doesn’t need to be very good (it’s leads an indolent lifestyle, shall we say), EAB is a specialist and it needs to be good enough at traveling to find new host plants even if they’re miles away (let’s call it an overachiever in the beetle dispersal world). That’s why the ALB infestation in and around Worcester, Mass., is worth fighting neighborhood to neighborhood whereas if EAB is in Boston we can expect it already to be in Rhode Island and there’s not much we can do about it. Here’s the text of an email sent out by the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation today:

Massachusetts State Officials Confirm Emerald Ash Borer Detected in Suffolk County

BOSTON -Wednesday, July 30, 2014 – The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) today announced that the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been detected in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. The destructive beetle was detected in a trap at the Arnold Arboretum on July 16, 2014, and was confirmed by federal officials on July 18. Suffolk County is the third county in the Commonwealth to have a confirmed detection of EAB.

DCR and DAR officials are working in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the U.S. Forest Service to take a number of swift proactive steps aimed at slowing the spread of the invasive beetle, including:

. Defining a quarantine area that would only allow the movement of certain wood products under certain conditions;
. Conducting a delimiting survey to help identify the extent of the infestation;
. Working with stakeholders to ensure they know how to properly treat or dispose of infested trees and materials; and
. Maintaining a ban that has been in place against bringing any firewood into state parks and forests.

“The presence of Emerald Ash Borer in our state represents a serious threat to our ash trees,” said DCR Commissioner Jack Murray. “We are taking swift action to address the infestation, educate the public, and work to mitigate any impact an infestation could bring.”

“It is important for the public to remain vigilant and to report any ash trees with signs of Emerald Ash Borer damage,” said DAR Commissioner Greg Watson. “Early detection of new infestations will help slow the spread of this pest.”

In August of 2012, EAB was detected in Berkshire County in the Town of Dalton. In November of 2013, EAB was confirmed in Essex County in the Town of North Andover. DCR instituted county-wide quarantines of Essex and Berkshire counties shortly after the EAB was discovered. To date, 23 states across the country have confirmed detections of EAB. DCR has received $125,000 in funding from the USDA’s APHIS and $60,000 in funding from the U.S. Forest Service. DCR has also spent $185,000 to combat infestations of EAB.

Regulated items that would fall under quarantine include:

. The Emerald Ash Borer, in any living stage of development;
. Firewood of all hardwood species;
. Nursery stock of the genus (Ash);
. Green lumber of the genus (Ash);
. Other material living, dead, cut or fallen, including logs, stumps, roots, branches, and composted and uncomposted chips of the genus (Ash);
. Any other article, product or means of conveyance that an inspector determines presents a risk of spreading EAB and notifies the person in possession of the article, product or means of conveyance that it is subject to the restrictions of the regulations.

Emerald Ash Borer is a small, metallic green beetle, native to Asia, which feeds on ash trees. It was first discovered in North America in 2002, in the Detroit, Michigan area. Unlike many other invasive beetles, EAB kills ash trees quickly, within just 3 to 5 years, because it bores directly under the bark and disrupts the tree’s conductive system. Since its discovery in North America, it has killed millions of ash trees and has caused billions of dollars in treatment, removal and replacement costs to address the infested trees.

Ash is a main component of the northern hardwood forest in Massachusetts and is a common species in western Massachusetts. Ash is also a popular street tree in eastern Massachusetts.

“Unfortunately, tens of thousands of trees are needlessly killed by invasive tree-killing insects and diseases every year,” Andy Finton, Conservation Programs Director for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Massachusetts. “If everyone makes the commitment to take one simple step – not moving firewood when they travel or camp – we can work together as a Commonwealth to save both newly planted and already existing trees from being lost from our roadsides, backyards, and natural areas.”

Residents are urged to take the time to learn the signs of EAB damage which include:

. Tiny, D-shaped exit holes in the bark of ash trees, dieback in the upper third of the tree canopy, and sprouting of branches just below this dead area.
. In the winter months, signs of EAB infestation left by woodpecker activity on ash trees. Fresh, light-colored wood pecks stand out against the darker bark of the tree. Severe woodpecker activity at the base of the canopy or on the main stems may indicate possible EAB infestation and should be reported to state forest health personnel immediately.
. The Emerald Ash Borer is an emerald-green metallic beetle so small that seven of them could fit on the head of a penny.

DCR and APHIS will be scheduling listening sessions in Suffolk County in early September to provide the community with information relative to the finding and address questions. To report suspicious tree damage or insect sightings, or to learn more about this pest, visit http://massnrc.org/pests/eabreport.htm. You can also call the toll free EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512.

In Rhode Island, if you find or suspect EAB, contact Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Gail Mastrati, 222-4700 ext. 2402.

This entry was posted in Animals, Education, Invasives, News. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *