By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An Asian beetle that attacks ash trees has been discovered in the Delaware Valley.
The emerald ash borer — a pretty, iridescent green beetle that has already killed millions of ash trees worldwide — has been discovered in Bucks County, Pa.
Don Eggen, forest health manager with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, says it’s a major pest.
“It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to chestnut blight for an insect, in that 99 percent of the trees that are infested will succumb to the beetle and die,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
Eggen says the larval stage of the beetle feeds on the living tissue under the bark, and so many attack a tree that it “girdles” it, cutting off its water and nutrient supply, killing the tree in three to five years.
Eggen thinks the newly discovered infestation has been in Bucks County for at least five years.
He says, though, there are things you can do to protect your tree. If you have an ash tree, have it inspected by a certified arborist for the distinctive, D-shaped bore holes the larvae make when they emerge from the bark (right).
If you catch it early enough, Eggen says, you can have your tree expert treat it with a systemic pesticide. It can also be applied as a preventive treatment, which is close to 100 percent effective.
Eggen also says that moving firewood from one location to another helps spread the emerald ash borer, so don’t do it.
The good news from all this? That public and professional education has created awareness of the emerald ash borer, and that may help prevent a lot of damage.