green bug 300WESTERN KY (3/29/13) – A 1/2-inch long dark metallic green beetle is responsible for the loss of tens of thousands of ash trees across northern and central Kentucky.
 
The emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis, a native to Asia, was first documented in the state in 2009.
 
"The emerald ash borer has now spread to 21 Kentucky counties at a minimum," said Jody Thompson, an environmental scientist with the Kentucky Division of Forestry. "From three years of trap data, University of Kentucky researchers found that one of the largest (infestations) and potentially oldest is in the northern Franklin and Shelby County area."
 
Adult beetles emerge in late spring from May to early June and feed on ash leaves. After mating occurs, females lay 60 to 90 eggs on a nearby ash tree.
 
It's the larvae, the immature stage of the beetle, causing the damage from feeding on the inner bark (phloem) and disrupting the tree's ability to transport sugars and other nutrients.
 
"If enough of the flow is cut, the tree will stress and eventually die," said Thompson.
 
The most reliable signs of this beetle are the D-shaped holes in the bark from which adults emerge. Another sign is finding an adult beetle. Infested trees often exhibit a discoloration of the bark as woodpeckers try to get at the larvae. Branches in the tree's canopy die and sometimes suckers grow from the tree's trunk.
 
Typically, it takes about two years for a mature ash tree to succumb to the emerald ash borer. Ash trees in cities and suburbs are just as vulnerable as those in rural woodlands.
 
Ben Robinson, small game biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said it would be a big loss to wildlife if Kentucky's ash trees disappeared.
 
"Ash trees are valuable as a seed source," he said, "for songbirds, bobwhite quail, wild turkeys and even wood ducks in bottomland hardwood forests."
 
The exotic, invasive beetle probably arrived in North America in wood shipping crates carried by cargo ships. The Emerald ash borer was discovered in North America in 2002. By 2012, the beetle had spread to at least 17 U.S. states.
 
In years to come, Kentuckians could be looking at a landscape with few, if any, ash trees. "Ash trees sucker and grow well from seed, so there's likely to be a small lingering population," Thompson said.
 
All species of ash trees native to Kentucky, including the white ash, green ash and blue ash, are susceptible to the emerald ash borer. The blue ash, an heirloom of Kentucky's pre-history, still survives in remnant savannas of the Inner Bluegrass Region.
 
"Fayette County has been chemically treating some of their large blue ash trees," said Thompson. "To be effective, chemical treatment has to be continuous."
 
Ash wood has a high strength-to-weight ratio and low shrinkage when dried. It is a valuable wood with many commercial uses for everything from flooring and electric guitar bodies, to tool handles and baseball bats.
 
For the most up-to-date information on the emerald ash borer in Kentucky visit: http://pest.ca.uky.edu/EXT/EAB/welcome.html.
 
Art Lander Jr. has been writing about the outdoors since the 1970s. He is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine.

WK Outdoors
Information provided by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Photo provided by KDFW
Visit the WK Outdoors website at www.wkoutdoors.com

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

AHS Soccer, Chick-fil-A 'Team up'

OWENSBORO, Ky. (4/20/15) — The Apollo High School boys' soccer program is sponsoring a team night from 4 to 8 p.m.… Read More

Owensboro Health Announces Medical Group Changing Name to 'One Health'

OWENSBORO, Ky. (4/20/15) — Owensboro Health has renamed its medical group to One Health, a move that reflects the… Read More
1 DOW 18,034.93
0.00 (0.00%)    
2 S&P 2,107.68
+7.28 (0.35%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,021.47
+26.87 (0.54%)    

Most Read This Week

April 17, 2015 9061

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 13, 2015 6340

Three Juveniles, Adult Accused of Vandalizing…

by Deputy Will Coursey
April 14, 2015 5520

Several Juveniles Charged in Connection with Fight

by SurfKY News
April 18, 2015 5284

Man Charged with Attempting to Coerce Minor for…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 20, 2015 3705

Nortonville Woman Charged with Meth Possession at…

by Madisonville Police Department

Most Read This Month

April 17, 2015 9061

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 02, 2015 8583

UPDATE: Madisonville Man Injured in Head-on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

April 20, 2015 3705

Nortonville Woman Charged with Meth Possession at…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 20, 2015 2086

Madisonville Man Charged with Sex Abuse of Two…

by SurfKY News
April 20, 2015 1654

Traffic Stop Results in DUI, Drug Possession,…

by SurfKY News
April 20, 2015 1207

Pick Greenville's 'Saturdays on the Square' Free…

by Beth Newman
April 20, 2015 886

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports Released -…

by Madisonville Police Department
April 20, 2015 866

Hopkins County Sheriff's Reports Released

by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office
April 20, 2015 820

Police Seeking Public's Help in Locating Man…

by Wes Miller
April 20, 2015 667

Former Certified Medication Technician for Dawson…

by Leland Hulbert
April 20, 2015 583

Dawson Springs Police Reports Released

by Melissa Heflin
April 20, 2015 433

KDOW: Caney, Hurricane, Copper among Hopkins…

by Dick Brown