The emerald ash borer made its way to 16 new Missouri counties this year, including Boone, according to a news release from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The small, metallic green beetle is native to Asia and attacks all species of ash trees, killing 99% of the trees it infects. The beetle spreads via firewood, where it can survive for up to two years after the wood is harvested, according to the release.
The beetle kills trees by laying eggs on the bark. The larvae burrow into the tree and feed on vascular tissues, cutting off the flow of water and nutrients.
In the U.S., the beetle was first detected in 2002 in the Detroit area. In July 2008, the beetle was discovered in Wayne County, Missouri. It has now been found in 75 Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis.
Signs of an infestation in ash trees include increased woodpecker activity, sprouts growing from a tree’s main trunk and major branch loss. Trees decline in health for two to four years before being killed by the beetle.
Ash tree owners are encouraged to either remove at-risk trees or begin a pesticide treatment to prevent infestations. The Department of Conservation created a management guide for Missouri homeowners with treatment options and tips on how to spot a potential infestation.
Because the beetle travels and spreads through firewood, it is recommended that people avoid moving or buying firewood more than 50 miles away from where it was harvested.
The department encourages people to report possible infestations, which can be done online or through the Forest Pest Hotline at 866-716-9974.
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