Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler signed an emergency quarantine order today restricting the movement of hardwood firewood, ash nursery stock and other ash materials from Granville, Person and Vance counties following the confirmation of the emerald ash borer in trees there. This marks the first time emerald ash borer has been found in the state.
North Carolina is the 20th state in the country to confirm the presence of the destructive pest, following the discovery of an adult beetle and other signs of borer activity in trees in Granville County by staff with the N.C. Forest Service. Additional surveying found signs of emerald ash borer activity in the bordering counties of Person and Vance.
“The detection of this pest is not unexpected, especially given the presence of the beetle in Virginia and Tennessee,” Troxler said. “We have been surveying and trapping sites along the state borders for several years for any signs of the movement of this pest. A federal quarantine will be coming shortly, but I am invoking this emergency quarantine to take every step possible to restrict the movement of emerald ash borer any further.”
The beetle was first detected in the United States in Michigan in 2002. It is responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees across the country.
Under the state quarantine, all hardwood firewood and plants and plant parts of the ash tree — including living, dead, cut or fallen, green lumber, stumps, roots, branches and composted and uncomposted chips — cannot be moved outside the three counties.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Plant Industry Division and N.C. Forest Service are working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
“Detecting and preventing the human spread of the emerald ash borer is a huge undertaking,” said Deborah Stewart, USDA state plant health director for North Carolina. “We need everyone’s cooperation to minimize the impacts of this pest.”
Symptoms of emerald ash borer in ash trees include a general decline in the appearance of the tree, such as thinning from the top down and loss of leaves. Clumps of shoots, also known as epicormic sprouts, emerging from the trunk of the tree and increased woodpecker activity are other symptoms. The emerald ash borer is not the only pest that can cause these.
Emerald ash borers overwinter as larvae. Adult beetles begin to emerge from May to June and can be found in the summer months. The adult beetle is one-fourth to a half-inch long and is slender and metallic green. When the adults emerge from a tree, they leave behind a D-shaped exit hole. The larvae can also create serpentine tunneling marks, known as feeding galleries, which are found under the bark of the infested trees.
Home and landowners are encouraged to report any symptomatic activity in ash trees to the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division hotline at 1-800-206-9333 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The pest can affect any of the four types of ash trees grown in the state.