The emerald ash borer (EAB), an exotic species of beetle that kills ash trees, has been confirmed in Westchester Township, outside Burns Harbor in Porter County. The site is close to the Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park.
The insect was found by a DNR trap tree survey team in that area Oct. 17 and confirmed as being an EAB by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Brighton, Michigan, Oct. 20.
As a result, the DNR will issue a quarantine by early next week for most ash products and some other wood products in the remainder of the county.
Once issued, the quarantine will prohibit transportation of ash trees and most ash tree products out of Porter County. The ban will include ash nursery stock, ash logs or untreated ash lumber with the bark attached; any type of firewood except for pine; and any composted or uncomposted wood chips or bark chips that are one inch or larger.
Westchester Township specifically will be regulated under this quarantine, which means that ash products will not be able to be moved out of the township or out of the county without permission from DNR. 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 United States.
"As we've emphasized before, this destructive insect is very easily moved into other areas, especially when transporting firewood," said DNR Director Kyle Hupfer. "We need the public's cooperation on not moving firewood into or out of affected areas."
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 DNR clothing.
Other infestations in Indiana have been found in White, St. Joseph, LaGrange, Steuben, Randolph, Huntington, Hamilton, Marion and Adams counties. Large infestations are present in Michigan, Ohio and Canada. Two infestations have been found in Illinois, one within Chicago and one west of Chicago.
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. Trap trees such as the one that yielded this most recent find help officials find the pests sooner.
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 they have when they visit a campground."
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 EAB?s 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,
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