Tree-killing emerald ash borer continues march south

An invasive insect known for killing ash trees has been detected for the first time in two counties bordering Jackson County.

The green, metallic-looking beetle that destroys ash trees by infesting portions of the trunk and major branches, causing loss of canopy, was first reported in Jackson County this year.

Emerald ash borer now has been discovered in Scott and Jennings counties and in traps in four other southern Indiana counties — Pike, Spencer, Sullivan and Warrick — according to a news release from the Department of Natural Resources.

The loss of canopy, or leaves, ruins the water- and nutrient-conducting tissues under the bark. Heavily infested trees can produce canopy die-back, usually starting at the top of the tree, according to DNR.

In Indiana, there are about 147 million ash trees in forests, according to Purdue Extension.

Phil Marshall, forest health specialist and state entomologist, said the insect was discovered in the state in 2004, and the recent detections now mean 79 of 92 counties have been affected.

Emerald ash borer was reported in Jackson County this year and now is found in more than a half-dozen

locations here, which is considered “somewhat normal,” Marshall said.

A few of the areas where the pest has been found include the far northwestern part of the county in the Maumee area, the Vallonia Nursery, on the east side of the Jackson-Washington State Forest and in Brownstown.

“Once (the emerald ash borer) is in the area, it stays until it runs out of food, which can take several years,” Marshall said.

The only detection in Jennings County, so far, is in the southeast part of North Vernon. That report and the one in Scott County had woodpecker-attacked ash trees, which led to the emerald ash borer findings. Some types of woodpeckers forage on the insects.

“When woodpeckers attach to the tree, it’s like finding a can full of worms,” Marshall said.

With these new counties affected, the effectiveness of quarantines are being evaluated, according to the state. That’s because both Scott and Jennings counties were state quarantined

before the insect was

found there.

This means that restrictions were in place to prevent the spread of emerald ash borer to high-forest areas, specifically regulating the movement of firewood and ash materials. People can accelerate their expansion when they move infested product to new areas, Marshall said.

A decision will be announced next year as to whether the county-level quarantines will continue, according to DNR.

Marshall said they have worked well in some counties like Scott and Jennings by keeping the impact low and helping to slow the progression.

Visitors to DNR properties can bring in firewood only if it is certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or DNR Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology or it is free of bark.

At a glance

For information on emerald ash borer or to report an infestation, visit eabindiana.info or call Indiana DNR’s toll-free hotline at 866-NO EXOTIC (663-9684). To view EAB rule and EAB quarantine declaration, visit dnr.IN.gov/entomolo/3443.htm.

Pull Quote

“Once (the emerald ash borer) is in the area, it stays until it runs out of food, which can take several years.”

Phil Marshall, forest health specialist and a state entomologist