Tree Killers Emerald Ash Borers Continue to Wreak Havoc

The emerald ash borer was first confirmed in New York State in 2009 by the DEC. (WikiMedia Commons)

First of a two-part article.

Who knew that such a tiny insect could wreak so much havoc throughout the country?

That dubious distinction belongs to the emerald ash borer (EAB), which is native to Asia and bad news here in the U.S., where the insect is present in 27 states, including New York and New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Metallic-green in color and measuring just a half-inch long and one-eighth wide, the emerald ash borer is responsible for the death of tens of millions of ash trees in Michigan, where it was first discovered in 2002, and hundreds of millions of trees in the affected parts of the U.S and Canada. The U.S. Forest Service says that the cost for treating, removing and replacing infected ash trees is estimated to be $10.7 billion. Some condo associations in parts of the country with ash trees have addressed the emerald ash borer problem in online announcements.

The emerald ash borer was first confirmed in New York State in 2009 by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and has been known to known to exist in at least 12 counties, including Albany, Ulster, Erie and Dutchess. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture said that infestations of the emerald ash borer, which was first detected in the Garden State two years ago, have been found in six counties—Bergen, Burlington, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Somerset—as of June 2016.

Origins and Introduction

Patrick Parker, plant health care director of SavATree, a tree and shrub care company with offices in 10 states and the District of Columbia, says the arrival of the emerald ash borer into the U.S. could be attributed to global commerce. “A lot of the most destructive insects we've had actually come in on wood crate packing materials where the insects themselves are already inside the wood when the packing material came into the country,” he says, “We see a lot of infestations start that way. Some of the larger port cities are where you'll see these infestations start, where those products come in. Other times they could be brought in with plant material that's imported from other areas.”

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