COLUMN: WARNING: Emerald Ash Borer is near

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By Bryce Roberts

Most people are aware of the danger to ash trees from the emerald ash borer throughout North America. According to a sobering USDA Forest Service publication, “Emerald ash borer is the most destructive forest insect introduced into North America in recent history. Our present ability to detect, contain, eradicate, or manage EAB infestations is limited . . . The eventual loss of the vast majority of ash trees in North America should be anticipated.” To read the entire publication, please visit http://na.fs.fed.us/pubs/eab/eab_strategy.pdf.
Since 2009, 19 Kentucky counties have found the invasive pest, and more can expect it to penetrate their landscapes. As a result of this invasion, a quarantine area surrounding these counties was set up to limit the spread of ash logs, lumber and firewood that contributes to spreading the emerald ash borer to other counties. However, the results of recent trapping conducted by the University of Kentucky’s entomology department indicate the spread of EAB outside the current quarantine area.
These results may initiate a change in the quarantine area, which could be the expansion of the current quarantine to encompass counties where insects have been found in traps, or the development of a statewide quarantine.
The Forest Health Task Force, a voluntary consortium of state and federal agencies, natural resource groups, forest industries, and woodland owners, has met and provided information that will be used to reach a definitive decision regarding how an expansion of the quarantine will be handled.
New occurrences are not extensive, and generally are around the areas where EAB has been found before, in counties adjacent to the current quarantine zone. However, the implications are costly, particularly for town and city governments because EAB causes street/shade trees to die.
Spread of EAB is also an issue for the wood industry. Currently, a permit is required to move wood outside the quarantine area, and since many transactions involve moving wood from one county to another, this is a burden on the industry.
There is no evidence from other states that spread of EAB has been slowed by any means. Nothing has been found effective. In short, EAB will
•    continue to spread
•    be effective in causing mortality of ash trees
Additionally, federal support for trapping is in jeopardy, and the number of traps (currently 5,000 to 6,000) may be reduced to 1,000 to 2,000. This reduction would restrict researchers’ ability to know where EAB is occurring.
For more information, please visit the following website:  http://pest.ca.uky.edu/EXT/EAB/welcome.html.
Feel free to contact me at your Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service at 477-2217 or you can email me at broberts@uky.edu.  You can visit the Spencer County Extension Services’ website at www.spencerextension.com.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.