Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Second infestation of emerald ash borer found in N.H.

(ConcordMonitor.com - Thursday, May 1, 2014) State forestry officials have confirmed a second infestation of emerald ash borer in Merrimack County, an area about 3 miles long by 2 miles wide on the border between Canterbury and Loudon.

They said the infestation appears to be unrelated to the first New Hampshire spotting of the invasive pest in Concord last spring.

There is no known eradication method for the beetles, which are native to Asia and are responsible for killing millions of ash trees in 22 states since they were first discovered in Michigan 12 years ago. They have spread quickly from state to state, largely because of people moving firewood between regions, experts said.

“We will be dealing with the emerald ash borer for the rest of our careers,” said Kyle Lombard, forest health specialist with the Division of Forests and Lands. “There’s no getting rid of it where it is, but we’re working to slow the spread.”

New Hampshire’s roughly 25 million ash trees make up between 4 and 6 percent of the state’s forested area and about 1 percent of the timber industry.

So far, emerald ash borer damage has not been reported outside of Merrimack County, but officials said landowners across the state should check their trees now for excessive woodpecker activity, the most visible sign of infestation.

The birds strip the outer layer of bark off ash trees in their attempts to get at the bugs’ eggs and larvae, exposing the trees’ cream-colored underbark. That damage is most visible now, before the trunks are obscured by leaves.

The beetle’s larvae can kill untreated trees within five years of infection by eating S-shaped channels into the underbark, cutting off the flow of nutrients and water.

A permanent quarantine is in place on ash nursery stock, lumber and wood chips, and all hardwood firewood – not just ash – within Merrimack County. Transporting any regulated items outside the county requires a permit; wood other than ash that is at least 4 feet long does not require one.

Lombard was optimistic that most people have stopped transporting firewood into the state. A 2012 survey showed about 10 percent of people admitted bringing in out-of-state wood. That’s down from about 40 percent in 2006, he said.

Gov. Maggie Hassan plans to announce a statewide emerald ash borer awareness week in late May to encourage landowners to inspect their trees and plan for possible infestations.

“Regardless of what community you live in, you need to determine if you have an ash resource, and think about your long-term goals for that resource, your budget for treatment, removal or replacement so that if emerald ash borer is found in your area, you have a plan,” state entomologist Piera Siegert said. “You want to be the one deciding how to manage your trees, rather than having the beetle make the decisions.”

Towns, cities and landowners with infested ash trees have few options. They could remove an infected tree or inject it with pesticides, but both are expensive.

State foresters can release wasps that prey on the beetle, but they said last year the infestation was not large enough to warrant that move. 

If you are having the same devastating infestation, please feel free to contact us.