An infestation of the emerald ash borer (EAB), an exotic species of beetle that kills ash trees, has been confirmed in Harris Township in St. Joseph Co. As a result, the DNR has issued a quarantine for most ash products in the remainder of the county, including Mishawaka and South Bend.
DNR Director Kyle Hupfer said the quarantine prohibits transportation of ash trees and most ash tree products out of St. Joseph Co. This ban 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.
He said these measures are designed to slow the spread of the infestation while federal and university scientists look for ways to better manage the pest in the U.S.
DNR personnel and others will periodically survey the area around the infestation. Residents of the area should be able to easily identify these workers, who will be wearing distinctive clothing.
Other infestations in Indiana have been found in LaGrange, Steuben, Randolph, Huntington, Hamilton, Marion and Adams counties.
Large infestations are present in Michigan, Ohio and Canada.
Jodie Ellis, the exotic insects education coordinator at Purdue University, said pinpointing exactly where the EAB is in the state has been challenging because it often takes two to three years for ash trees to show symptoms of infestations.
Homeowners and others who come in contact with ash trees can help slow the spread of the EAB.
"We rely on local residents, foresters, loggers, tree removal or trimming crews, and others to report possibly infected sites," said Dr. Robert Waltz, state entomologist. "The public also can help us manage the spread of this insect by not moving firewood and by burning all campfire wood when they are visiting campgrounds."
Ellis warned that people in the quarantined areas should be wary of possible scam artists trying to profit from the situation.
"Unfortunately, certain individuals see the EAB 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."
Residents who see evidence of the emerald ash borer should call Ellis, (888) EXT-INFO or (888) 398-4636; or the DNR Invasive Species Hotline, (866) NO-EXOTIC or (866) 663-9684.
The adult EAB 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 insect is visible only during the summer months. During the cooler months, the 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 EAB damage from that caused by the many native borer insects that attack ash trees. Two of the main ways to tell EAB damage from that caused by native species are by the EABís characteristic D-shaped exit holes in the main trunk of the affected tree and by the S-shaped feeding tunnels beneath its 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, www.entm.purdue.edu/eab/.