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June 1, 2014

Trees at risk from pests

In an attempt to raise awareness and increase knowledge about an extremely destructive invasive insect pest known as the emerald ash borer (EAB), New York marked its 4th Annual Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week last month. New York has more than 900 million ash trees representing about seven or eight percent of the trees in the state. All are at risk.

The economic and environmental impacts of infestations have been devastating and state leaders are asking forest landowners, campers, hikers and others to keep an eye out and report possible infestations. New York State’s forests and parks are high-risk areas due to firewood movement, and New Yorkers are instructed to use only locally sourced firewood when burning it at home and, when travelling, to buy firewood where you will be burning it and burn it all. 

Emerald ash borers are not aggressive flyers and on their own they do not move very far. Hiding in firewood, however, the insect may be transported over great distances. 

The EAB is a native of northeastern China, North and South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. It is believed to have made its way to the United States in wooden shipping crates. 

It was first discovered in the U.S. in 2002 near Detroit, Mich. During that same year, it was found across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. However, a new research study, which looked at tree rings in core samples from trees killed by EAB, found that trees within the 5,800-square-mile area being studied were being killed by EAB beginning as early as 1997.

The team concluded that EAB has been in southeast Michigan since 1992 or 1993 and perhaps even longer. 

EAB is now responsible for the destruction of more than 40 million ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with hundreds of millions more lost in 22 states (Michigan, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Iowa, Kansas and Colorado) and two Canadian provinces (Quebec and Ontario). Presence of EAB was also confirmed in Somerset County, N.J., just last week.

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