No southern hospitality for the emerald ash borer

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State forestry agencies in the South are bracing for the potential arrival of the emerald ash borer. Agencies, like the Georgia Forestry Commission, are putting out traps to capture the beetles that attack ash trees. The beetles have been found as far south as Knoxville, TN. In Georgia alone, 800 traps are being placed on trees by the Forestry Commission, Georgia Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and Trees Atlanta. Officials in Virginia, where the beetles have already been found, are placing over 2300 traps for their 2012 survey.

The Emerald Ash Borer, an exotic beetle from Asia that feeds on ash trees, was first found in southern Michigan in 2002. There are at least 16 states with infestations. In addition to Michigan, they are: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec also are infested.
 
The emerald ash borer is not only threatening the existence of ash trees but could also leave its mark on Major League Baseball. Louisville Slugger makes the official bat for Major League Baseball out of northern white ash harvested in New York and Pennsylvania. These forests have not been impacted to date, but the threat is real. Louisville Slugger has information about the emerald ash borer on their website as well as their backup plan if the northern white ash becomes endangered.
 
A federal quarantine prohibits the movement of ash tree materials and hardwood firewood out of the infested areas without federal certification. The beetle kills ash trees by eating the layer under the bark, cutting off the flow of nutrients for the tree. State and Federal forestry agencies (and Louisville Slugger) are asking citizens to look out for the pest, recommending those coming from an infested area to wash down their vehicles. For those who buy local firewood, avoid transporting it from its point of origin to prevent the spread of the beetles.
 
Photo: USDA CC BY 2.0

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