A tree killing parasite is threatening New Jersey forests, as it makes its way into three more of the state’s counties.
Agrilus planipennis, widely known as the Emerald Ash Borer, is a small insect whose larval stages can penetrate tree bark through small cracks and cause a great deal of damage by feeding themselves out of the tree’s nutrients.
This way, the tree is left with a nutrient shortage, especially when it is being parasitized by a large number of insects. Furthermore, the larvae cause mechanical damage to the tree, as they burrow on through the wood, under the tree bark.
This type of tree-killing parasite leaves a trail of destruction behind it, in the form of spirals carved into the wood. The adult insects also cause damage to the tree, by feeding on its leaves. The ash tree can survive for about five years when it is infested with by the insects.
New Jersey’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has confirmed the presence of Agrilus planipennis in Burlington, Somerset and Mercer counties. Therefore, they are advising residents to seek the help of specialists in order to protect their trees.
“Now that the beetle is in New Jersey and is starting to spread, we ask that towns put plans in place to respond to the beetle,” said New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture, Douglas Fisher.
Officials are also warning residents not to move firewood from these areas, because this is the way that the infestation is spread. Specialists believe that the Emerald Ash Bored first reached North America in 2002 along with a shipment of firewood that came from China.
The tree parasite has a million year history there, and so the trees have evolved enough to keep themselves naturally protected from the insect, by producing special chemicals that kill the insects. The North American trees on the other hand are defenseless in the face of the emerald killer and therefore they need assistance.
The three New Jersey counties will most likely be added to the national Ash Borer quarantine list soon. This means that they will not be able to transport wood to areas outside the quarantined area, under the penalty of law.
It is of the utmost importance that authorities implement stricter measures in order to prevent the Emerald Ash Borer from spreading any further, because if the situation remains as it is now, the vicious ash tree killer will spread all throughout the country by the end of the decade.
Photo credits: emeraldashborer.info