The Emerald Ash Borer, a one-half inch long insect named for its emerald green color and its ability to destroy Ash trees has been discovered in southern Madison County and has prompted the Missouri Department of Agriculture to expand the Wayne County quarantine to include Madison and six additional counties throughout the state.
“We have seen the location expand,” said Dr. Jon Hagler, Missouri Director of Agriculture. “We had an indication on the border of Madison and Iron County and that’s why we expanded there. There was also an instance on the border of Carter and Shannon County. Obviously those counties are mostly forested and have the opportunity for rapid spread.”
Carter, Iron, Madison, Reynolds and Shannon counties in southeast Missouri and Clay and Platte counties near Kansas City are now included in the state quarantine, and Missouri’s Wayne County has been quarantined as a result of the Emerald Ash Borer since the insect was first identified within the state in 2008.
“We have been talking with a lot of landowners about keeping an eye on their Ash trees,” said Resource Forester Becky Fletcher, Missouri Department of Conservation. “This insect only affects Ash trees, and we don’t have that many in Madison County, about three percent, but keeping an eye on them, making sure they are healthy and contacting the conservation department is important so we can take a look and see if it is an Emerald Borer infestation or if it is one of the look-alike diseases.”
Much of the pests’ spread is attributed to humans transporting it under the bark of firewood, logs and tree debris. As such, Missouri’s quarantines prohibit both interstate and intrastate movement of those products.
“The casual residential camper or recreational user may come out from the city and not think about it, buy some wood in one county and camp in another county, or take it home with them if they have a fireplace and the next thing you know you’ve got an entire urban or suburban or other rural community that’s not been impacted now impacted,” Hagler said.
The quarantine limits the movement of certain wood products from these counties most likely to transport the borer. Affected products, which may not be moved without first entering into a compliance agreement through USDA-APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine, include any part of an ash tree, from logs and green lumber, to compost, bark and chips, as well as ash nursery stock and all hardwood firewood.
“We have a process in place where we can inspect those logs to make sure that they are pest-free and we can go ahead and ship those out. There’s an opportunity to still move those, they have to do it under inspection, but we have that process in place. We have been using it Wayne County so it shouldn’t be an issue on the commercial base,” said Hagler.
USDA-APHIS-PPQ also has quarantined the eight Missouri counties included in the state’s quarantine. Detailed information on mo vement of ash products under a compliance agreement is available online at eab.missouri.edu.
The Missouri departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources work with federal staff from USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as researchers at the University of Missouri, to monitor Missouri’s forests and urban areas for the insect. Staff also inspects incoming shipments of nursery stock, which may harbor the borers and other invasive pests.
Those agencies also work together to raise awareness of the impact the Emerald Ash Borer could have on our state’s trees, especially in urban and suburban areas where 30 percent or more of the trees may be ash. Missouri’s educational “Don’t Move Firewood!” message, encouraging individuals to buy or gather firewood where they plan to burn it, can be found everywhere from trade shows to radio public service announcements to highway billboards as part of a statewide effort to slow the insect’s spread.
“Getting ahead of this with educational awareness is important because it can reduce the impact that people can unwittingly have on their local communities,” said Hagler.
The Emerald Ash Borer quarantine is one of several Missouri has in place to protect the state’s trees from invasive forest pests. Foresters, arborists, landscape and nursery workers and landowners should also be aware of a quarantine affecting walnut wood products from other states, including logs, as a preventative measure to prevent an infestation of Thousand Cankers Disease of Black Walnut. The state is also working to establish a quarantine to protect pine trees from the invasive Pine Shoot Beetle, which was identified in Macon, Marion and Lewis counties earlier this year.
For more information about the Emerald Ash Borer, plant and pest quarantines and the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s other programs, visit mda.mo.gov