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Emerald ash borers march on Kentucky

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By The Staff

The purple boxes are back, which means the emerald ash borer (EAB) has returned to Kentucky. They have found the insects in Franklin County, Shelby County, Jefferson County and Jessamine County.

There is no evidence of EAB in Grant County as of right now, however, Chris Ammerman, Grant County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, said, “more than likely they’re here; it’s natural for them to migrate here.”

Emerald ash borer’s are Asian beetles, discovered in 2002, which infests and kills Northern American Ash species. After a tree is infested with EAB, the branches start to thin and the bark will begin to split; 1/2 to 1/3 of the branches may die in one year. Most of the canopy will be dead within two years after symptoms are observed. Adult beetles are metallic green and about ½ inch long. They can fly at least ½ mile from the tree where they emerge. Emerald Ash Borer’s only attack ash trees.

Ammerman said when EAB infect an ash tree they will leave a D-shaped hole, roughly about the size of a dime and normally 10-15 feet off the ground. Another thing to look for on ash trees is noticeable damage such as broken limbs and a decrease in leaves.

Joe Collins, senior nursery inspector at University of Kentucky, said the purple boxes hanging on ash trees throughout the county and throughout Kentucky are put up through the EAB Trapping Programing. They are detection surveys. The boxes help researches know where the beetles might be. Collins said the boxes will be taken down in late August to early September.

There are roughly 5,500 traps across Kentucky. The traps are mainly found along northern I-64 and where there is high traffic, such as Land Between the Lakes, Red River Gorge and Mammoth Cave.

According to the website provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): www.emeraldashborer.info/, Emerald ash borers are becoming an international problem, with infestation in Canada as well as in 10 or more states. This infestation could reach the billions of dollars nationwide if it is not dealt with.

A treatment is available for homeowners who suspect EAB. The cost of the treatment could cost $200 - $300 each year it is needed.

“The thing to remember, the most important thing right now, is to not move firewood,” Ammerman said.

Do not transport firewood, even within Kentucky and do not buy firewood from outside the state.

For more information, visit www.emeraldashborer.info/.