Baton Rouge, La. (February 18, 2015) – The emerald ash borer, a severe insect pest of ash trees, has been confirmed in Webster Parish making Louisiana the 25th state to confirm the presence of this beetle.
Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a federally-regulated plant pest that almost exclusively attacks ash trees. It was first reported in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002. The beetle, which is native to Asia, most likely entered the country in dunnage or wooden pallets. Since that time, it has spread down the East Coast as far south as North Carolina and Georgia, and west to Colorado. Most recently, it was found in southern Arkansas in July 2014.
A U.S. Forest Service and Forest Health Protection employee found evidence of EAB damage in ash trees during a visual survey. Further investigation revealed larvae (immature beetles) beneath the bark of multiple trees in approximately a two acre area. Feeding damage creates characteristic S-shaped tunnels, or galleries, in the sapwood causing initial branch dieback. After several years, the infested trees die. Larvae were collected and sent to the USDA Systematic Entomology Laboratory in Maryland where they were confirmed as EAB.
“Louisiana’s ash trees are primarily located along the Atchafalaya Basin and the Mississippi River Delta. However, ash trees are also planted in many urban areas for its aesthetic appeal,” said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “As mentioned last year when EAB was discovered in our neighboring state of Arkansas, it could be costly for residents or city officials to have them removed once they start dying.”