Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

An invasive tree-killing beetle is spreading south in Texas

By meerna Jun12,2024

FILE – This undated photo provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources shows an adult emerald ash borer. Maine forestry officials plan to broadly expand quarantine zones to prevent the spread of three invasive forest pests that pose a threat to the state’s timber industry. Pests include the emerald ash borer, the hemlock woolly adelgid and the European larch canker. (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources via AP, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An invasive wood-boring beetle is spreading rapidly in Texas thanks to human interactions.

Emerald ash borers are an invasive species that bore into ash trees – whether it is a healthy or a stressed, dying tree. Wizzie Brown, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service senior extension program specialist, said entomologists are concerned because it is destroying ash species.

Emerald ash borer (EAB). (Courtesy: Texas A&M Forest Service)

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the beetles were first found in northeast Texas in 2016, and as of this month, they have spread to 24 other Texas counties, including five counties added in May.

Brown said the destructive species appears to be moving south along Interstate 35, meaning it’s only a matter of time before it reaches central Texas. This is an example of human interaction with a species, causing it to spread faster.

“Typically with the emerald ash borer, it spreads very short distances each year,” Brown said. “But with human intervention — if you take firewood that is ash or furniture made from infested trees — it can travel and jump great distances.”

Emerald borer paste (courtesy of Texas A&M Forest Service)

Texas A&M AgriLife says people carry them through infested firewood and nurseries from infested areas.

According to Texas A&M AgriLife, the beetles cause trees to die within two to five years of infestation. Ash trees where borer attacks have been confirmed are recommended to be removed and destroyed.

According to Texas A&M AgriLife, ash trees are typically found in wetter areas along waterways, streams and rivers.

According to the forest service, tree species make up a large portion of urban forests. They provide shade to streets and homes, keep the air clean, maintain soil quality, and manage stormwater runoff.

By meerna

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