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

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner

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.

Most Read This Week

July 02, 2015 15458

Emergency Response Team on Scene of Standoff on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
July 02, 2015 8039

Police: Stand Off Suspect in Critical Condition

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
July 03, 2015 4095

KMA Reminds Motorists of New Kentucky Red Light…

by David Holt
July 01, 2015 3517

Police Seeking Public Help in Locating Subject…

by SurfKY News
July 01, 2015 3374

Crime Stoppers Top Most Wanted - July 2, 2015

by Crime Stoppers

Most Read This Month

June 24, 2015 45872

Western Kentucky, Southern Indiana's Largest…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
July 02, 2015 15458

Emergency Response Team on Scene of Standoff on…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

July 06, 2015 2742

Man Accused of Choking Girlfriend, Threatening to…

by SurfKY News
July 05, 2015 1828

Hopkins County Traffic Advisory

by Keith Todd
July 06, 2015 1192

Driving on Suspended License, Alleged Fleeing…

by SurfKY News
July 06, 2015 1168

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports Released -…

by SurfKY News
July 06, 2015 879

KLC to Hold Free OSHA Training for West Kentucky

by Daniel Lowry
July 06, 2015 617

Swingin' for Sadie Scholarship Recipients

by Karen Robinson
July 06, 2015 615

Two Vehicle Head on Collision Sends Two to Local…

by SurfKY News
July 06, 2015 609

Kentuckians Touched by Organ Donation Featured on…

by Karen McKnight
July 06, 2015 596

City Launches New Website, Online Payment System

by Leslie Curneal
July 07, 2015 567

White Plains Man Accused of Firing Shotgun at Car…

by SurfKY News