The emerald ash borer is spreading across much of the country, most recently the state of Ohio, and causing costly damages for local governments and residents, The Associated Press reports.
Much like other wood-damaging pests, the species can multiply quickly and destroy trees and hardwood. Native to China and Eastern Asia, emerald ash borers are believed to have arrived in North America in wood packing used to ship goods, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
"Just as a wild fire often spreads by sparks from the main fire, so the emerald ash borer is spreading through the state," Joe Boggs, an Ohio State University extension services educator told The AP. "Once these little, crackling fires are established, the population starts building until it explodes into full conflagration."
These bugs are named after their iridescent green color. Roughly â…› to ½ inches, the average emerald ash borer can easily fit on a penny, the USDA states. The small but mighty bugs are responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of trees in 13 states in the Midwest, along the East Coast and in parts of Canada.
While the city of Dayton has spent roughly $40,000 this year to remove and replace diseased ash trees, Ohio residents are confronted with the hefty costs of damage to trees and hardwood located on their property.
"Every community, every homeowner, should be thinking about the effect the emerald ash borer is having," said Wendy Van Buren, urban forester with the state's Department of Natural Resources, according to The AP,
Meanwhile, Northland, Missouri confirmed the presence of these beetles earlier in December, reports The Smithville Herald. As a result, Platte and Clay counties have been under a federal quarantine that prohibits the transportation of firewood from these areas to prevent the spreading of potential infestations.
While emerald ash borers can fly as far as two miles, they most often get a ride from people unknowingly transporting infested firewood, Kevin LaPointe, a city forester for the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, told the newspaper.
Keeping the home pest-free
Luckily, these beetles do not attack finished wood, unlike termites and other wood-demolishing critters. However, few homeowners want to see these green bugs flying around their property because they destroy the trunk and major branches of ashes and tree removal can be very costly.
Dead branches near the top of a tree and leafy shoots growing out of the lower portion of a trunk may be signs of an emerald tree borer infestation. In addition, these bugs make S-shaped tunnels and D-shaped exit holes in wood. If a tree displays signs of a pest problem, it's a good idea to call a pest management professional.
In addition, because firewood is a popular dwelling choice among these bugs, homeowners should inspect wood thoroughly before bringing it into a home. It's best to keep firewood outdoors on an elevated platform at least 20 feet from any structure. This prevent beetles and other more destructive critters from coming into contact with a building's foundation and walls.