Emerald Ash Borer Found in Fairfax
Emerald ash borer, a small Asian beetle that attacks ash trees, has been found in Fairfax County. The beetle was discovered near Detroit in 2002 and has since killed more than 40 million ash trees in southeast Michigan. Additional infestations have killed trees in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
Ash trees are an important component of the riparian buffers that protect our streams and are widely used as street trees. In addition, green ash has been used extensively in reclaiming strip mines. All of these trees are at risk from the borer.
Ash trees are also valuable parts of our ecosystems. The seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. Nationwide ash trees are a host to 150 species of butterflies and moths and many other insect grazers. Most of these can use other tree species, but the grey ash sphinx moth specializes on ash and is at peril along with our ash trees.
Emerald ash borer larvae kill trees by feeding on the inner bark, disrupting transportation of water and nutrients within the tree. Infected trees are diagnosed by the canopy die back, distinctive D-shaped exit holes and S-shaped channels under the bark. Other signs include bark splitting, sprouts at the base of the tree and increased woodpecker feeding.
A quarantine on the movement of all firewood, ash logs, wood chips and live ash trees has been placed on Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the encompassed cities and towns in that area. For more information on the emerald ash borer visit www.emeraldashborer.info.
(Conservation Currents, Fall 2008)