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The Emerald Ash Borer found in more East Tennessee counties

11:49 PM, May 22, 2012   |    comments
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The quarantine zone for the Emerald Ash Borer has nearly doubled, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, as more traces of the foreign insect have been found.

According to the state, Anderson, Hawkins, Hamblen, Hancock, and Roane Counties are now on the list.

Already Knox, Blount, Sevier, Loudon, Claiborne, and Grainger Counties are under the quarantine, which federally prohibits the distribution of firewood and timber in quarantine county zone. That is a main cause for the bug's spread across the area.

"We thought we had been spreading... now we have confirmation of that," said UT entomologist Jerome Grant.

Emerald Ash Borer is known to burrow into ash trees and cut off its water supply to limbs and leaves, eventually killing the plant.

"Girdles that tree until it starves," he added.

In just a couple of years, an infested tree can die. Because of Tennessee's warmer weather, that infestation process is faster that where the foreign insect was first found in America years ago.

EAB was first found at a Watt Road truck stop in July 2010.

"We've seen tremendous increase in our infested sites where we're already got tree mortality occurring," he said.

He said the federal quarantines cannot stop the bug's presence, and thinks if more people continue to bring firewood and lumber outside quarantined limits, the bug will continue it's spread.

"(The quarantine) could slow it down enough for research to catch up with it so we can develop research tools to not just reduce its spread, but reduce the impact where it's currently affected," Grant said.

For more information on the quarantine, visit the Department of Agriculture's website.

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