Officials here are urging residents to be on the lookout for signs of emerald ash borers, an invasive beetle that can kill ash trees.
Evidence of the emerald ash borers first turned up in North Carolina several weeks ago in Granville County. State and county officials spotted signs of them under the bark of ash trees and also found adult specimens.
So far, the metallic green beetles have been discovered only in Granville, Person and Vance counties. The state’s agriculture commissioner has issued a quarantine for firewood and other parts of ash trees in those counties to help slow the infestation’s spread.
A federal quarantine is expected as well.
The emerald ash borer, a species native to parts of Asia, first was found in the United States in 2002 near Detroit and has spread to 20 central and eastern states. It has a presence in both Tennessee and Virginia, so the discovery in N.C. was not unexpected.
“We’ve definitely been on the lookout for it. And hoping it would take longer,” said Jason Moan, a forest health specialist with the state’s Forest Service.
The beetles lay their eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the larvae hatch, they bore into the tree and feed on its transportation tissue, disrupting the flow of nutrients and water through the tree, according to the N.C. Forest Service. This causes girdling, the removal of a strip of bark from around a tree, which then leads to its death.
Signs of an infestation include thinning at the top of a tree’s crown and the presence of small, D-shaped exit holes from the adult beetles. A tree’s death typically takes five years but can happen in as few as two, the N.C. Forest Service said.
The locations of potentially infested trees can be reported to the state’s Agriculture & Consumer Services department at 1-800-206-9333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.