The Emerald Ash Borer Beetle could devastate tree populations

Two more East Texas counties have been added to the list of those now seeing an invasive and very destructive insect.
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 1:57 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KLTV) - Two more East Texas counties have been added to the list of those now seeing an invasive and very destructive insect.

This insect is the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle.

Morris and Rusk counties are now among 11 East Texas counties that have confirmed the beetles’ presence.

Texas A&M forest service confirms that Rusk and Morris counties now are hosts to the destructive beetle, a pest that has killed millions of trees across 35 states since its arrival to the United States.

“I have heard some people suggest that the entire population of ash trees in the United States is now in peril. There are whole industries that use ash as their production material,” says Dr. Robert Puckett, Entomologist at Texas A&M university.

The beetle was first discovered in Texas in 2016 in Harrison county.

“These are wood boring beetles. Back in 2002 they were first discovered up in Michigan, and that’s when the first alarm bells started going off,” Puckett says.

The Texas forest service has put out traps to catch the beetles, but they only fly between April and June, so they’ve had to remove the traps. The beetles’ verdict on trees is final. Once they infest them, the trees are dead within 2 to 3 years.

“There’s a financial value associated with them, so you’ve got pretty significant economic concerns here,” says Puckett.

The beetle, native to Asia, was reportedly transported to the US on firewood and wood products and could potentially kill millions more trees as it spreads across Texas.

“All of the ash species are in potential peril from these beetles. Those larvae, once they hatch, will burrow into the tree and feed on the vascular area of the trunk of the tree. At the point of discovery, the damage has been done,” Puckett says.

He noted people can help by not doing one thing: “Don’t move wood from one county to another if you know that county is infested, especially ash wood.”

Puckett says anyone who suspects their tree has the Emerald Borer should contact the Texas A&M forest service.

The Texas department of agriculture already has a quarantine in place for moving wood products from infested counties, and you could be given a citation if found transporting material in violation of this quarantine.

Devastation to the ash tree population caused by the beetles could have an economic impact of billions of dollars.

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