James N. Slye, east forest health specialist for the North Carolina State Forest Service said a trap was placed at Medoc Mountain State Park the Friday before the Fourth of July holiday after the beetle had been found in Warren County. The beetle was found in the Medoc Mountain trap roughly a week later.
EAB, according to a statement from the North Carolina State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is a metallic green beetle that bores into ash trees and feeds on tissues beneath the bark, ultimately killing the tree.
The signs and symptoms of EAB aren’t always immediately noticeable because EAB damages the inside of the tree.
Adult borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark and feed on the transportation tissues of the tree. This disrupts the movement of nutrients and water within the tree, causing the tree’s slow death, typically in three to five years.
The signs and symptoms of EAB infestation include thinning and dying crowns; increased woodpecker activity that causes the tree to look like it is losing patches of bark; small, 1/8-inch D-shaped exit holes where adult beetles emerged from the trees; galleries on the inside of the bark; cream-colored larvae; and epicormic sprouting, or sprouting from the main stem of the tree.
Host plants include all native ash trees and native white fringetree. The Chinese white fringetree, often planted for ornamental purposes, is believed to be resistant.
EAB, a non-native invasive insect from Asia, has been found in the following North Carolina counties: Alamance, Avery, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Caswell, Catawba, Davidson, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Graham, Granville, Guilford, Halifax, Haywood, Iredell, Johnston, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Orange, Person, Randolph, Rockingham, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Vance, Wake, Warren, Wayne, Wilson and Yancey.
The entire state of North Carolina is under a quarantine for EAB. This prohibits the movement of ash plant parts, the insect itself, ash nursery stock and all hardwood firewood into non-quarantined areas such as central Tennessee, most of Alabama, and all of Florida.
Adult EAB beetles are about a half-inch long and 1/8-inch wide. If their wing covers are pried up, their bodies are a metallic purple-red color. In North Carolina, the adult EAB is typically active from late spring and early summer, likely April through June. EAB larvae may be found under the bark of the tree most of the year.
The state Forest Service has a question and answer section on its website about the beetle.
Assistant Halifax County Ranger Adam Greene said a few landowners in the county are already cutting their ash trees.
Slye said parasitic wasps which search out the egg and larvae have been released in Granville and Wayne counties. Some have been released around Greensboro and Winston-Salem. “They’ve been tested pretty extensively and have been determined they are host specific.”
As far as ash trees used in yards and for ornamental trees there are chemicals which can help, Slye said.
There are chemicals for yard and ornamental trees that will help.
Tree-age, which is fairly expensive but gets a very good hold, is one of those products, he said. “There are also some generics.”
There is no specific game plan for ash trees in the woods, Slye said. “There’s not a lot we can do about it.”
Ash trees became a replacement for elm trees killed by Dutch elm disease.
Like Green, Slye said landowners have harvested their ash timber ahead of the EAB problem.
The state Department of Agriculture said in the statement the spread of invasive insects in North Carolina is often due to human activity through the transportation of infested wood products such as firewood. It is strongly recommended that people burn local or treated firewood to reduce the spread of invasive pests.
The North Carolina Forest Service Health Branch monitors the spread of invasive pests. People who suspect there is an infested tree in an area near them should contact their county ranger.
The number for the Halifax County ranger station is 252-826-3219.
Additional information about the infestation nationwide can be found on the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network website.