By Richard Whitby Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — A tiny pest with a big appetite for ash trees has arrived in Delaware and Otsego counties, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The agency said in a press release this week that a logger working in a private, Delaware County woodlot, just south of Unadilla, reported the suspected infestation to DEC officials, and that the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed presence of the destructive insect.
Follow-up surveys in the area by the workers from Cornell University and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets identified other infested trees north and west of Unadilla, DEC said.
The addition of Otsego and Delaware counties brings to 15 the number of counties with confirmed infestations of emerald ash borer. Most of the infested areas are small and localized, and more than 98 percent of New York’s forests and communities are not yet infested, DEC said.
A quarantine is in effect for all or part of 20 counties south of the New York Thruway. It prohibits any movement of live emerald ash borers, in any life stage, from sites where they are found. This includes infested ash logs from woodlots. Non-infested ash logs and products can be moved within the quarantine area, but cannot be moved out of the quarantine area.
DEC also has a firewood regulation that prohibits the movement of untreated firewood of any species more than 50 miles from its source. The agency said it is increasing its enforcement efforts to prevent the movement of such firewood into and around the state. According to DEC regulations, treated wood is wood that has been heated to a core temperature of 71 degrees Celsius, which is about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
The agency is attempting to limit the spread of the ash borer by using a variety of approaches, such as removing infested trees, precisely establishing infestation boundaries and researching insecticides and organisms that kill the pests.
“If industry does want to take the trees down that are infested, it can only happen during the non-flight season (flight season is May 1 through September 30),” said Joe Morrissey, a spokesman for the Agriculture and Markets Department.
The emerald ash borer is a small but destructive beetle that infests and kills North American ash species, including green, white, black, and blue ash. The larvae burrow into an ash tree and feed in tunnels just below its bark. This kills it by disrupting water and nutrient flow within the tree.
Adult beetles leave distinctive D-shaped exit holes in the outer bark. Other signs of infestation include tree canopy die-back, yellowing and extensive sprouting from the roots and trunk. Woodpeckers eat the larvae, so an infested tree may also exhibit damage from their pecking.
DEC urges residents to watch for signs of infestation in ash trees. To report suspected infestations, DEC’s emerald ash borer hotline at (866) 640-0652 or submit an report on DEC’s website. To learn more about the emerald ash borer and the firewood regulations, visit the agency’s website at www.dec.ny.gov.