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Emerald Ash Borer Setting Sights on East Texas

Emerald Ash Borer Setting Sights on East Texas

The towering trees that shade East Texas’ landscape may soon be at risk from an unwanted neighbor. Spotted just 42 miles from the Texas state line, the emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees in rural and urban forests in 24 states, including Arkansas, Missouri and now Louisiana.

Often misdiagnosed as heavy woodpecker activity from the outside, inside the emerald ash borer creates a distinctive winding gallery or trail beneath the bark.

Sporting a bright, metallic, emerald green color, the emerald ash borer is smaller than the diameter of a penny. Native to Asia, the beetle’s first North American populations were confirmed in 2002 in southeast Michigan and in Windsor, Ontario. Experts believe the invasive insect was first introduced in ash wood used for shipping pallets and packing materials in cargo ships. As the name suggests, the emerald ash borer feeds on and eventually kills all native ash trees.

US Forest Service entomologists confirmed an isolated infestation in Louisiana in mid-February 2015, and are conducting surveys to determine how widespread it has become. The natural spread of emerald ash borer infestations is about two miles per year, depending on the infestation intensity.

Following Louisiana’s survey, a proactive quarantine will be put into place, prohibiting the sale of nursery stock and the movement of firewood to other areas—activities that can often expedite the infestation.

Landowners in East Texas are encouraged to keep an eye on ash trees. Be aware of signs and symptoms of emerald ash borer infestation—dying back from the top, increased basal sprouts, heavy woodpecker activity and winding trails beneath the bark.

Landowners are asked to report any symptoms to their local Texas Forest Service office.