LEBANON, Missouri- The Missouri Department of Conservation says an insect that can kill Ash trees has been discovered locally.
The Department says the Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in in Laclede County, the first time the invasive beetle has been seen in Southwest Missouri.
The MDC says a recent examination of several ash trees in rural Laclede County shows an unwanted tree pest is continuing its spread across Missouri.
This destructive insect has now been found in 31 Missouri counties. The bulk of findings have been in southeast Missouri, Kansas City and St. Louis. This recent find is the first evidence of this non-native insect in the southwest part of the state.
The Emerald Ash Borer is a small metallic green beetle native to Asia. The approximately half-inch long insect was first discovered in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002. Most likely, that initial introduction was the result of the insect being transported here in packing crates and pallets made of EAB-infested wood.
The beetle was first seen in Missouri in 2008 in a public campground near Lake Wappapello. Infested firewood was likely to blame for this introduction, the agency says.
The agency explains the Emerald Ash Borer only attacks ash trees. The insect’s life cycle takes one year to complete according to experts. Adult beetles emerge from ash trees, leaving behind small D-shaped holes. Emerald Ash Borer females then lay eggs on the bark of ash trees in early summer. These eggs hatch into larvae that bore into the tree’s vascular layer which transports water and nutrients through the tree. The larvae feed on this vascular tissue, creating winding tunnels on the wood’s surface. Ash trees typically die from this feeding damage in three to four years, the ag
This tree mortality comes with a price tag for humans, Ash trees were widely planted in cities and parks decades ago after Dutch elm disease killed large elms at these sites.
“Now cities and homeowners in some areas are facing the expense of either treating ash trees that are at risk for infestation with insecticide or removing them. Ash comprises approximately three percent of the trees in Missouri’s forests, but can be as high as 40 percent of the urban trees in some cities,” Francis Skalicky, with the MDC writes.
The MDC says Missourians can help slow the spread of Emerald Ash Borer by not moving firewood long distances. A statewide Emerald Ash Borer quarantine established in 2013 by the U.S. and Missouri Departments of Agriculture restricts the movement of ash trees, logs and hardwood firewood from Missouri into states not known to have the infestation. The agency explains while it is legal to move firewood within Missouri, officials recommend not moving it more than 50 miles from where it was cut to slow the spread of the beetle and other invasive forest pests.
More information about Emerald Ash Borer, including insecticide options for protecting ash trees from EAB, can be found at your nearest MDC office or at mdc.mo.gov.