The latest pest to create a buzz among entomologists in the USA is the emerald ash borer. Previous infestations of this introduced pest found in Michigan, Ohio and Maryland have resulted in millions of dead ash trees (white, black and green). The devastation has been particularly severe because this borer attacks previously apparently healthy trees. The latest troubling news is that a new infestation was confirmed in northwest Indiana in late April.
The following is adapted from a news release from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (April 22, 2004). Note the role of a county extension Educator in this story.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indiana Department of Natural Resources officials have confirmed that the emerald ash borer has infected a tree at the Yogi Bear Jellystone campground on Barton Lake in Steuben County about 40 miles north of Fort Wayne IN. This is the first confirmation of the ash tree-killing pest in Indiana.
The adult emerald ash borer is slender with a bright metallic coppery green color. It is about one-third of an inch long. The larval or immature stage of the insect destroys live ash trees by eating the layers under the bark of the tree that supplies nutrients. After those layers are destroyed, the tree starves to death within a short time. Infestations are most easily identified by tiny D-shaped holes that are visible on the tree's bark. The bark also may develop lengthwise cracks or fissures.
To date, millions of ash trees have fallen prey to the emerald ash borer and a number of Michigan counties are under quarantine. The pest also has been found a few miles east of the Indiana border near Hicksville, Ohio and a few miles to the north in Quincy, Mich.
Indiana State Entomologist Robert Waltz announced today that the state would begin to take steps to contain the spread of the infestation. This will include a quarantine on Jamestown Township in Steuben County that will forbid the transportation out of the township of any ash tree, including nursery stock, any ash logs or untreated lumber with the bark attached, and composted or uncomposted ash chips or bark chips one inch or larger. Lastly, no cut firewood from any species of tree grown in Jamestown Township may be taken out of the township.
DNR was first notified of a possible infestation by a local Purdue Extension educator. Samples from the infected tree were collected by a DNR entomologist and a representative of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health inspection Service (APHIS) and sent to the USDA's Systematic Entomology laboratory in Washington D.C. where it was confirmed as the emerald ash borer.
Additional information about the emerald ash borer is available on the DNR website.
This article originally appeared in the 5/7/2004 issue.