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Tree-Killing Emerald Ash Borer Insects Infests Ash Trees In Southwest Missouri

First Posted: Dec 30, 2016 02:54 AM EST
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Recent examination has recently been revealed that an unwanted tree pest continues to spread across Missouri, infecting several ash trees in the rural Laclede County.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation foresters, the tree pests are called Emerald Ash Borer, a bright green beetle that is considered dangerous or lethal to ash trees. The said insects are currently found in Laclede County near Lebanon. This is the first evidence of the insect in the southwest part of the state.

Jennifer Behnken from the MDC's urban forester for Missouri's southeast region said that the Emerald Ash Borer insect is threatening to Missouri's ash tree population.

"Our native borer insects kill only the severely weakened trees, the trees that need to be taken out anyway. The EAB isn't native to our area, and it isn't so picky. It kills healthy ash trees, so it's devastating to our ash tree population," Jennifer Behnken said.

According to a Department of Conservation news release, the said insect is already in the 31 Missouri counties, infesting many ash trees. Most numbers Emerald Ash Borer is found in southeast Missouri, Kansas City and St. Louis.

This is the first time that the non-native insect spread in the southwest part of the state. According to studies, the insect originated in Asia. It's a half-inch-long beetle which was first discovered in the U.S particularly in Michigan in 2002.

The insect was possibly transported here through the packing crates and pallets that are made of ash borer-infested wood. The tree will die within 2 to 4 years after being infected, and the said insect was responsible for the destruction of hundreds of millions of ash trees in the U.S.

The lethal insects only attack ash trees. The adult beetles emerge from the ash trees, leaving a D-shaped hole. Females lay eggs on the bark of the tree in early summer. These eggs then are hatched into larvae and are bore into the tree's vascular layer - a zone where water and nutrients are being transported through the tree.

"We ask that people watch for and report suspected EAB infestations in countries that aren't yet known to have them. We're working to understand how EAB spreads and we certainly appreciate help from people who notice damage to their ash trees," Behnken said.

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