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Invasive beetle discovered in more Texas counties – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

The devastating and invasive emerald ash borer has been found in five new Texas counties, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The non-native little green beetle has now been confirmed in Grayson, Hill, Hood, McLennan and Palo Pinto counties. On Monday, the city of Dallas confirmed that the beetle had been found in two locations within the city limits, including in the Great Trinity Forest, which is estimated to be 40% ash.

The insect is devastating to ash tree populations, boring its way into the bark of the tree where it lays eggs. The beetle larvae eventually feed on the water-conducting tissue of the tree, slowly killing the tree.

“The spread of EAB into these counties is alarming,” said Allen Smith, regional forest health coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service. “It is more likely that EAB will spread to neighboring counties, but the spread to McLennan County indicates that EAB is spread by humans, which can be prevented.”

The Texas A&M Forest Service, which sets hundreds of traps and monitors for EAB across the state each year, said the specimens were collected this month in each of the five counties. The samples were sent to the USDA Department of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), where they all tested positive for EAB.

“Since 2018, we have been placing nearly 500 traps annually in Central, East and North Texas to monitor the presence and movement of the insect,” Smith said. “Both healthy and unhealthy ash trees are susceptible to EAB attacks and have no natural resistance to the invasive insect. Without the right proactive measures, mortality in heavily infected areas could reach 100%. Early detection could therefore increase our chances of controlling the pest.”

Once the beetle is confirmed in a county, the Texas Department of Agriculture establishes a quarantine that restricts the movement of woody ash material so that it cannot be moved solely between infected counties. The forest service said the small beetle can be inadvertently carried on firewood and wood products and that the quarantine will help slow the spread of the beetle.

All ash types are susceptible to the destructive EAB. Affected trees die within two to five years after infection.

The Texas A&M Forest Service said they have resources to help affected communities identify signs of EAB infestation, and make decisions about preventative measures they can take and how to go about managing and removing trees.

“The agency will work with communities on state quarantines for the movement of timber into and out of the area. These quarantines are standard protocols for such pests and are established in Texas by TDA,” the Forest Service said.

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

WHAT IS AN EMERALD ASHBORN?

The emerald ash borer is a small beetle, green in color and smaller than a penny.

The beetle bores its way into the bark of the tree and lays eggs. Larvae feed on water-conducting tissue and eventually kill the tree.

Officials said the insect has been confirmed in more than half of the United States and has killed millions of ash trees.

“Both healthy and unhealthy ash trees are susceptible to EAB attack and can die within two or three years of infection,” said Allen Smith, regional forest health coordinator for Texas A&M Forest Service, during an interview with NBC 5 in May 2022. “Ash trees have no natural resistance to the exotic insect. Without the right proactive measures, mortality in heavily infested areas could reach 100%, so early detection could increase our chances of controlling the pest.”

Ash trees with low numbers of EAB often have few or no external pest symptoms. However, residents can look for signs of EAB among their ash trees, including dead branches at the top of the tree, leafy shoots sprouting from the trunk, bark splits exposing s-shaped larval galleries, extensive woodpecker activity and D-shaped exit holes.

The beetle was first discovered in North America in Michigan in 2002 and has since spread to more than 25 states, killing millions of ash trees.

Tree-killing Emerald Ash Borer confirmed in Cooke County.