Emerald ash borer found in Stanly County for first time

Published 3:21 pm Monday, May 9, 2022

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The emerald ash borer was recently found in Stanly County for the first time, bringing the number of counties in the state where the tree-killing insect has been detected to 62.

EAB is a metallic green beetle that bores into ash trees and feeds on tissues beneath the bark, ultimately killing the tree. The discovery was found on private property in Albemarle.

“A forestry consultant noticed a ‘D’ shaped exit hole in the ash tree canopies while clearing an area,” said Jim Moeller, forest health specialist with the N.C. Forest Service. “Once the trees were cut down, N.C. Forest Service personnel helped peel back the bark and found the insect.”

Adult borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark and feed on the transportation tissues of the tree. This disrupts the movement of nutrients and water within the tree, causing the tree’s slow death typically in three to five years.

The signs and symptoms of EAB infestation include thinning and dying crowns; increased woodpecker activity that causes the tree to look like it is losing patches of bark; small, 1/8-inch D-shaped exit holes where adult beetles emerged from the trees; galleries on the inside of the bark; cream-colored larvae; and epicormic sprouting or sprouting from the main stem of the tree.

Host plants include all native ash trees and native white fringetree. The Chinese white fringetree, often planted for ornamental purposes, is believed to be resistant.

EAB has been found in the following North Carolina counties: Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Graham, Granville, Guilford, Halifax, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Johnston, Lenoir, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Nash, Orange, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Warren, Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes, Wilson, Yadkin and Yancey.

The entire state is under a quarantine for EAB, which prohibits the movement of ash plant parts, the insect itself, ash nursery stock and all hardwood firewood into nonquarantined areas such as central Tennessee, most of Alabama and all of Florida.

Adult EAB beetles are about a half-inch long and 1/8-inch wide. Under their wing covers, their bodies are a metallic purple-red color. In North Carolina, the adult EAB is typically active from late spring to early summer, likely April through June. EAB larvae may be found under the bark of the tree most of the year.

For more information about EAB, visit ncforestservice.gov and follow the links under the “Forest Health” section. To view current federal EAB quarantines, visit www.emeraldashborer.info.

The spread of invasive insects in the state is often due to human activity through the transportation of infested wood products such as firewood. It is strongly recommended that people burn local or treated firewood to reduce the spread of invasive pests.

The N.C. Forest Health Branch monitors the spread of invasive pests. People who suspect there is an infested tree in an area near them should contact their county ranger. Contact information can be found online at ncforestservice.gov, under the links in the “contacts” heading.

A map showing emerald ash borer detection throughout North Carolina is available at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/forest_health/pdf/Map_EAB_NCTracking.pdf.