The destructive Emerald Ash Borer has spread to three more East Tennessee counties.
The EAB is an invasive insect that destroys ash trees. Greene, Campbell, and Cocke Counties are the most recent locations added to a growing list that are now under an EAB quarantine. The quarantine bans the transport of firewood in those counties, in an effort to stop the spread of the bugs.
"The spring, summer Emerald Ash Borer surveys are in full swing to determine the extent of the infestation," said Gray Haun, TDA Plant Certification Administrator. "We will be working closely with federal officials and other stakeholders to take steps to limit its spread when found and protect our forest resources and urban landscapes."
EAB attacks only ash trees. It is believed to have been introduced into the Detroit area 15 to 20 years ago on wood packing material from Asia.
Since then, the destructive insect has killed millions of ash trees across several states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
A total of 10 East Tennessee counties have been added to the list this spring and summer. Union and Monroe were added last month. Anderson, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins and Roane counties were added in May. Blount, Claiborne, Grainger, Knox, Loudon and Sevier counties were placed under quarantine last year.
The quarantine prohibits the movement of firewood, ash nursery stock, ash timber and other material that can spread EAB. With the new discovery, citizens can expect expanded surveys and should report any symptomatic ash trees to TDA.
"People in Tennessee can expect to see trappers servicing the big purple traps in June throughout the state and checking for Emerald Ash Borers," said Haun. "The purple traps are coated with an adhesive that captures insects when they land. The color is thought to be attractive to EAB, and is relatively easy for humans to spot among the foliage."
Typically, the Emerald Ash Borer beetles can kill an ash tree within three years of the initial infestation. Adults are dark green, one-half inch in length and one-eighth inch wide, and fly only from April until September, depending on the climate of the area. In Tennessee, most EAB adults would fly in May and June. Larvae spend the rest of the year beneath the bark of ash trees. When they emerge as adults, they leave D-shaped holes in the bark about one-eighth inch wide.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry estimates that five million urban ash trees in Tennessee are potentially at risk from EAB. The risk represents an estimated value loss of $2 billion. There are an estimated 261 million ash trees on Tennessee public and private timberland potentially valued as high as $9 billion.
TDA urges area residents and visitors to help prevent the spread of EAB:
• Don't transport firewood, even within Tennessee. Don't bring firewood along for camping trips. Get the wood you need from a local source. Don't bring wood home with you.
• Don't buy or move firewood from outside the state. When obtaining firewood, ask the vendor about the source, and don't buy wood from outside the state unless it states that it has been treated.
• Watch for signs of infestation in your ash trees. If you suspect your ash tree could be infested with EAB, visit www.TN.gov/agriculture/eab for a symptoms checklist and report form or call TDA's Regulatory Services Division at 1-800-628-2631.
For more information about other programs and services of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture visit www.tn.gov/agriculture.