EMERALD ASH BORER FOUND IN WEST VIRGINIA
Emerald ash borer (EAB), a highly destructive, non-native beetle that attacks ash trees, has been found in Fayette County, according to Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass.
An EAB larva was discovered in a “trap tree” that had been prepared by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division to survey for the beetle, which has been found previously in surrounding states.
Trap trees are intentionally damaged to provide an attractive tree for the beetles to inhabit, if they are present. The survey programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USDA-FS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-APHIS-PPQ).
WVDA Plant Industries Division Director Gary W. Gibson thanked the USDA for its assistance and cooperation during the time spent surveying for the insect and was especially pleased with how quickly the USDA-APHIS-PPQ made the final determination that the larva was that of the EAB.
Now, state and federal plant regulatory officials begin the process of looking more closely at the site where the beetle was found in order to determine how much ash is growing in the area and how large the infestation is.
“We were surprised to find the beetle this far south, because the closest known areas of infestation are in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I thought our first find would be in the Northern Panhandle,” said Gibson.
The emerald ash borer is believed to have been introduced into the U.S. in wood packing material from China. It was first identified in Michigan and has since spread to Indiana, Ohio Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Only species of ash are hosts for the beetle, which usually kill infested trees within a couple of years. The movement of EAB-infested firewood is an important pathway for moving the beetle and is believed to be how the insect found its way to Fayette County.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs, as mandated by state law. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials in West Virginia. Currently, Commissioner Gus R. Douglass is the longest-serving agriculture commissioner in the nation. For more information, visit www.wvagriculture.org.