The emerald ash borer, an exotic species of beetle that destroys ash trees, has been confirmed at a location in Randolph Co. As a result of the confirmed discovery, the DNR issued a quarantine for most ash products in White River Township in Randolph Co.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that larvae have been discovered in about seven trees that follow a small drainage ditch a half-mile from a site where Michigan nursery stock was introduced several years ago. Officials say it is possible that another source is in the area, however. The site is near Winchester.
Dr. Robert Waltz, state entomologist, said the quarantine prohibits transportation of ash trees and most ash tree products out of White River Township. This rule includes nursery stock, logs or untreated lumber with the bark attached; any type of firewood except for pine; and any composted or uncomposted ash chips or bark chips that are one inch or larger.
DNR personnel and others will begin surveying the area around the new find at the end of the month. Residents of the area should be able to easily identify these workers, who will be wearing distinctive clothing.
Waltz said the survey will help determine the number of ash trees in the immediate vicinity and the extent of the infestation. These steps are in preparation for the removal of all ash trees within a half-mile radius of the infestation. That removal will likely take place at the end of this year.
"Right now the Indiana DNR and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service personnel are in the field gathering results of this year’s trap tree survey, which they will complete by the end of the month. The survey was conducted in high-risk areas throughout the state and was responsible for this find. It should give us a clearer idea of where this insect is," said Jodie Ellis, the exotic insects education coordinator at Purdue University. "It's important to remember that, in Indiana, emerald ash borer appears in small pockets and not as a general wave of infestation. Once these pockets are identified, it is possible to wipe them out and keep the beetle from advancing further into our state."
Ellis said it's been a challenge to pinpoint where exactly EAB is in the state because it often takes two to three years for ash trees to show symptoms of infestations.
Homeowners can play a part in slowing the spread of the EAB. "We rely on local residents, foresters, loggers, tree removal or trimming crews, and others to report possibly infected sites," Waltz said. "The public also can help us stop the spread of this insect by not moving firewood and by burning all campfire wood when they are visiting campgrounds," he added.
Ellis warned people in the quarantined areas about possible scam artists. "Unfortunately, certain individuals see the emerald ash borer problem as an opportunity to make some fast cash," she said. "If someone comes to your home claiming to be able to 'cure' your ash trees of EAB, be suspicious. If someone tells you that your ash trees are infested and that he or she will cut them down for a price, take their name and number and report them to the DNR. At this time, there is no charge to citizens within an eradication zone of a quarantined township for ash tree removal. All citizens whose trees must be removed will be directly contacted by a member of the DNR beforehand.
Residents who see evidence of the emerald ash borer should contact Ellis at (888) EXT-INFO or the DNR Invasive Species Hotline at (866) NO-EXOTIC.
The adult emerald ash borer is slender and a bright, metallic, coppery-green color. It is about one-third of an inch long, making it difficult to spot in tree leaves. The adult form of the insect is only visible during the summer months. During the cooler months, EAB is in its larval, or immature, form and can only be found under the bark of ash trees. Emerald ash borer larvae destroy live ash trees by eating the vascular tissue, which supplies nutrients to the tree, Ellis said.
It's difficult to distinguish damage from emerald ash borer from damage caused by the many native borer insects that attack ash. Two of the main ways to distinguish the emerald ash borer from native species are by the characteristic D-shaped exit holes in the main trunk and the presence of S-shaped feeding tunnels beneath the bark. Other symptoms include vertical splits in the bark and increased woodpecker activity.
Additional information and photos of the EAB are available at Purdue's Web site at www.entm.purdue.edu/eab/.