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Va. forestry reports spread of ash-boring beetle | InsideNova

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Va. forestry reports spread of ash-boring beetle


An invasive wood-boring beetle has spread to more than a dozen counties in Virginia, threatening millions of ash trees, state forestry officials said Thursday.

The emerald ash borer, a native of Asia first detected in the U.S. 10 years ago, has now spread to the following counties: Pittsylvania, Halifax, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, Lee, Buchanan, Hanover, Warren, Caroline, Prince Edward, Giles, Loudoun and Stafford. The pest had previously been confirmed in three northern Virginia counties: Arlington, Prince William and Frederick.

The beetle “is capable of killing all 187 million native ash trees in Virginia, regardless of their initial health and condition,” said Chris Asaro, a forest health specialist with the Virginia Department of Forestry. The spread of the beetle, he said, poses a significant economic threat to a tree that is valued statewide at $170 million.

State forester Carl Garrison said the hardwood is used in the manufacture of baseball bats but also is used for flooring, cabinets, tool handles and pallets.

Besides the economic loss of trees, public funds would be needed to remove dead trees and to plant saplings to replace ash lost to the beetle.

Ash in Virginia represents approximately 1.8 percent of total forested volume statewide, according to U.S. Forest Service data.

State forestry officials, other agencies, private businesses and the federal government have attempted to slow the spread of the beetle over the past four years through a campaign to prevent the movement of firewood from infected areas to areas free of the beetles. Some, however, have ignored state-mandated quarantines.

The highly destructive, shiny green beetles can kill stands of ash in just three years.

Asaro said the beetle has the potential to make Virginia’s ash trees “ecologically and economically extinct within a few decades from now.” He compared the possible devastation to the blight that wiped out vast stands of the American chestnut.

The beetles are difficult to detect because they spend most of their life cycle as a grub, or larva, feeding under the bark.

“By the time EAB is detected, trees are usually dead or dying, and the insect has already spread to new locations,” Asaro said in a statement.

The tiny pest likely arrived inside wood packing material from Asia. It has been detected in 15 states.


Written by vaphc

July 16, 2012 at 11:33 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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