Ash Borer Could Devastate State's Forests

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Over 500 of these "Barney traps" have been installed across the state to monitor the presence of the emerald ash borer. Photo Credit: Matt Zalaznick

GREENWICH, Conn. — Emerald ash borers detected in parts of Connecticut recently have the potential to dwindle the state's forests if they aren't trapped and monitored properly, state environmental officials said.

The discovery of the borer on July 16 in Prospect and Naugatuck is the first report of the insect in the state.

"The presence of EAB here could have a devastating effect on the beauty of our forests, state and local parks and neighborhoods, as well as the state's wood product industries," Daniel C. Etsy, commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said in a release.

The bug lays eggs deep within ash trees, and the larvae eat the tree, killing it within a few years, said Chris Donnelly, DEEP's urban forestry coordinator. Ash trees make up only 3 to 5 percent of Connecticut's forests, but Donnelly says the ash borer is still a concern.

"It's a very serious problem," he said. "The beetle increases rapidly and flies very far." 

The beetle was discovered in Prospect by monitoring a native wasp that hunts the ash borer, according to a release. The developing wasp larvae feed on beetles provided by the adult wasp.

"Bio-surveillance is one of our detection efforts. We will monitor what the wasps take back to their nests," said Donnelly.

In addition, over 500 purple "barney traps" containing a chemical lure have been set up across the state by the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System, according to a release.

The ash borer has a green, metallic coat and is about a half-inch long, Donnelly said. They are thought to be Asian in origin, arriving here in shipments of low-grade fire wood and packaging materials. The first U.S. detection of the beetle was in Michigan in 2000.

"The first line of defense is vigilance," Donnelly says. "We want to make sure people know what the insect does and what it looks like."

For more information, visit the DEEP emerald ash borer information page.

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