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Emerald ash borer found in Asheville

The emerald ash borer has invaded the city of Asheville. The sighting on Craftsman Circle marks the third confirmation of the emerald ash borer in Buncombe County and the first evidence of ash trees under attack within the city. (Photo credit: Cutout Photo / U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 )

The emerald ash borer has invaded the city of Asheville. The sighting on Craftsman Circle marks the third confirmation of the emerald ash borer in Buncombe County and the first evidence of ash trees under attack within the city.

There are 25 counties where ash trees have been attacked in North Carolina. The emerald ash borer is a metallic green beetle that bores into ash trees and feeds on tissues beneath the bark, ultimately killing the tree.

The signs and symptoms of the emerald ash borer aren’t always immediately noticeable because the beetle damages the inside of the tree. Adult borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark and feed on the transportation tissues of the tree. This disrupts the movement of nutrients and water within the tree, causing the tree’s slow death, typically in three to five years.

The signs and symptoms of emerald ash borer infestation include thinning and dying crowns; increased woodpecker activity that causes the tree to look like it is losing patches of bark; small, 1/8-inch D-shaped exit holes where adult beetles emerged from the trees; galleries on the inside of the bark; cream-colored larvae; and epicormic sprouting, or sprouting from the main stem of the tree.

Host plants include native ash trees and native white fringetree. The Chinese white fringetree, often planted for ornamental purposes, is believed to be resistant.

The emerald ash borer is a non-native invasive insect from Asia and has been found in the following counties: Buncombe, Catawba, Davidson, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Graham, Granville, Guilford, Iredell, Johnston, Lincoln, Madison, Mecklenburg, Orange, Person, Randolph, Swain, Vance, Wake, Warren, Wayne, Wilson and Yancey.

North Carolina is under a quarantine for the emerald ash borer. This prohibits the movement of ash plant parts, the insect itself, ash nursery stock and all hardwood firewood into non-quarantined areas such as South Carolina or central Tennessee.

Adult EAB beetles are about a half-inch long and 1/8-inch wide. If their wing covers are pried up, their bodies are a metallic purplish-red color. In North Carolina, the adult EAB is expected to be active in late spring and early summer, likely April through June. EAB larvae may be found under the bark of the tree most of the year.

The spread of invasive insects in the state is often because of human activity through the transportation of infested wood products such as firewood. It is strongly recommended that people burn local or treated firewood to reduce the spread of invasive pests.

The North Carolina Forest Health Branch monitors the spread of invasive pests. People who suspect there is an infested tree in an area near them should call 1-800-206-9333 or email newpest@ncagr.gov.

Click here to learn more about the emerald ash borer. Click here to view federal EAB quarantines.


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