Tree-killing pest spreads to 53 Missouri counties

3 months 1 day 18 hours ago Thursday, August 16 2018 Aug 16, 2018 Thursday, August 16, 2018 2:27:00 PM CDT August 16, 2018 in News
By: Annie Hammock, KOMU 8 Interactive Director

COLUMBIA - An invasive beetle has spread to 11 new counties in Missouri. The emerald ash borer kills more than 99 percent of the trees it attacks.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says foresters have confirmed the Emerald Ash Borer is now in Adair, Callaway, Cape Girardeau, Cole, Greene, Jefferson, Lewis, Lincoln, Pike, Polk, and Warren counties.

The beetle, which is native to Asia, attacks only ash trees. It causes extensive damage, cutting off the trees' flow of water and nutrients.

The conservation department is urging people who own ash trees in areas where the beetle is established to either treat or remove the trees.

“If you have a healthy, high-value ash tree in your yard, it can be treated with insecticides that will protect it from EAB. However, these treatments must be applied every year or two to guarantee protection,” said Doerhoff. “For some ash trees, especially those that have already lost more than 50 percent of their leaves and branches, the best option is removal, followed by replanting with a different species, such as an oak native to Missouri.”

The conservation department said ash trees that are removed should be disposed of locally to prevent the accidental spread of the beetle to new locations. The beetle can emerge from ash firewood and logs for up to two years after harvest.

"Don’t give EAB a free ride to your favorite camping locations," a department press release said. "Buy firewood near where you plan to burn it."

More information on protecting ash trees from the beetle can be found in the Emerald Ash Borer Management Guide for Missouri Homeowners.

The conservation department is encouraging Missourians to learn to identify signs of the emerald ash borer and report possible infestations in counties where the pest has not yet been confirmed by contacting a local MDC forester, or calling the department's Forest Pest Hotline at 866-716-9974.

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