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Wednesday, 13 June 2012 19:20

Invasive insect kills ash trees

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials confirmed that the invasive emerald ash borer beetles — which can kill ash trees — are near the Sugarlands Visitor Center and in the Greebrier area on the Tennessee side of the park.

The insects were recovered during routine inspection of traps and sent to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist for confirmation. The emerald ash borer was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and has steadily spread from there, damaging millions of ash trees across the country. The ½ inch-long beetle lays eggs in bark crevices on all species of ash. Upon hatching, larvae burrow under the bark, creating feeding tunnels that interfere with the tree’s ability to translocate nutrients and fluids. The tree gradually starves and eventually dies.

The park began trapping the beetles in 2008. The spread of emerald ash borer beetles primarily results from transport of infested logs and firewood. A park-wide ban remains in effect for any firewood originating from a location for which a federal or state quarantine is in effect.  A list of all quarantined areas may be found at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/quarantine-counties.htm.

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