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Emerald Ash Borer Moves South

An adult emerald ash borer feeds off a leaf. (Purdue University Department of Entomology photo/John Obermeyer)

 

COLLEGE STATION, Texas: They have confirmed the presence of the invasive emerald ash borer (EAB) in Grayson, Hill, Hood, McLennan, and Palo Pinto Counties. EAB is infesting and killing ash trees in new areas of the state and continues to spread south.

“The spread of EAB to these counties is alarming,” said Allen Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Regional Forest Health Coordinator. “It’s more likely for EAB to spread to adjacent counties, but the spread to McLennan County indicates that EAB is being spread by humans, which can be prevented.”

Adult specimens were collected from each of the five counties earlier this month and tentatively identified as EAB. Texas A&M Forest Service sent them to the USDA Department Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) national lab for confirmatory identification. Lab results for all specimens tested positive for EAB.

Texas A&M Forest Service sets traps and proactively monitors for the emerald ash borer each year.

“Since 2018, we annually deploy nearly 500 traps across Central, East, and North Texas, watching for the insect’s presence and movement,” said Smith. “Both healthy and unhealthy ash trees are susceptible to EAB attack and have no natural resistance to the invasive insect. Without proper proactive measures, mortality can be 100% in heavily infested areas – so early detection could improve our chances to manage for the pest.”

Once the presence of EAB is confirmed in a county, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) assumes regulatory responsibility, which includes establishing quarantines. The state’s mandatory quarantine by TDA restricts the movement of any woody ash material exiting the county or quarantined area.

Because EAB is transported unintentionally on firewood and wood products, the quarantine helps slow the beetle’s spread by restricting the movement of wood in and out of affected areas,” said Demian Gomez, Texas A&M Forest Service Regional Forest Health Coordinator.

All species of ash are susceptible to the destructive EAB. Infested trees die within two to five years after infestation.

“There is no known way to stop to the spread of EAB,” said Gomez. “But we can help communities minimize loss, diversify their tree species, and increase the health and resiliency of urban forests.”

Texas A&M Forest Service has resources available to help affected communities identify signs of EAB infestation, make decisions about preventative measures they can take, and handle tree management and removal.

The agency will work with communities on state quarantines for wood movement into and out of the area. These quarantines are standard protocols for such infestations, and in Texas, they are set by TDA.

For more information on EAB in Texas, please visit http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/eab/.

For information from TDA on EAB quarantine, visit https://texasagriculture.gov/RegulatoryPrograms/PlantQuality/PestandDiseaseAlerts/EmeraldAshBorer.aspx.

To report emerald ash borer, please call the EAB Hotline at 1-866-322-4512.

About EAB in Texas

EAB is a destructive, non‐native, wood‐boring pest that targets ash trees. Native to Asia, forest health experts have been monitoring its movement across the United States since 2002. It has spread to more than half the states in America — and killed millions of ash trees. The beetle was first detected in Texas in 2016 in Harrison County in northeast Texas.  Since then, Texas A&M Forest Service has positively confirmed EAB in Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Marion, Morris, Parker, Rusk, Tarrant, Titus, and Wise counties.

 

Texas A&M Forest Service Contacts:

 

Demian Gomez, Regional Forest Health Coordinator, 512-339-4118, demian.gomez@tfs.tamu.edu

Allen Smith, Regional Forest Health Coordinator, 903-297-5094, lasmith@tfs.tamu.edu

Texas A&M Forest Service Communications Office, 979-458-6606, newsmedia@tfs.tamu.edu