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July 21, 2014
HOPE, Ark. – The emerald ash borer, a tiny Asian insect responsible for the deaths
of tens of millions of trees since its accidental introduction to the United States
in 2002, has been confirmed in Hot Spring, Clark and Nevada counties, according to
the state Plant Board and the Arkansas Agriculture Department.
What happens next will be of concern to homeowners, policy makers and baseball fans.
The discovery may mean adding Arkansas to a federal quarantine that bars movement
of firewood and nursery stock out of the quarantined area to slow the insect’s spread.
“I think the emerald ash borer’s impact will be huge,” said Tamara Walkingstick, associate
director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center.
In states already afflicted by the borer, ash trees are being cut down and removed
to prevent the insect’s spread.
“Shade tree loss and cost of removal in urban forests could tally in the millions
of dollars,” she said.
“There goes the one ash tree in my front pasture,” said Jim Robbins, an extension
horticulture specialist-ornamentals, for the University of Arkansas System Division
Emerald Ash Borer -- Known as EAB, this tiny insect has been enormously destructive
in states where it has been found. CREDIT MANDATORY -- Image by David Cappeart, Michigan State University. Image via
There’s another cost too. “You like baseball? Wood bats are made from ash. They do
have commercial value,” said Jon Barry, extension forester with the University of
Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Spotted by surveys
Since 2009, the Arkansas State Plant Board and the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection
Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, have been conducting surveys to detect the
borer, using traps and inspecting ash trees for signs of infestation.
The insect, a mere half-inch long, has expanded its range by hundreds of miles during
its 12 years in the U.S. It was first discovered in southeastern Michigan. In 2008,
it was found in southeastern Missouri.
While its appearance in Arkansas was not unexpected, “the only surprise was finding
it first in south Arkansas,” Barry said.
“The emerald ash borer should be able to spread only a few miles a year by flight,
but it has been spreading by leaps and bounds instead. How has this occurred?” Barry
said. “The most likely culprit in the spread of the borer is us -- people. People
move firewood, sometimes firewood that is infested with the emerald ash borer, and
in the process move the pest.”
Firewood should be sourced locally and burned locally, state officials said.
Signs of infestation
Signs of infestation include:
Barry said if any of these signs of infestation appear, contact your county extension
agent or call the Arkansas State Plant Board at 501-225-1598.
State and USDA APHIS PPQ personnel will now survey trees in the areas surrounding
the initial finds to determine the extent of the emerald ash borer infestation. It
is expected that a federal quarantine will be expanded to include parts of Arkansas
and potentially the entire state.
For more information about the emerald ash borer, visit www.emeraldashborer.info or www.arinvasives.org. A fact sheet about the borer may be found at: “Emerald Ash Borer: A potential pest
of ash trees in Arkansas”, downloadable at www.uaex.uada.edu/publications/pdf/FSA-7066.pdf.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers its programs to all
eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age,
disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Mary HightowerCooperative Extension ServiceU of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org