Emerald ash borer, a destructive forest insect from Asia, has been detected in Vermont, state officials announced in February after the U.S. Department of Agriculture investigated an insect found in northern Orange County.
According to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, emerald ash borer spend winters as larvae under the bark of ash trees and feed on inner bark tissue. Once infested, ash trees rapidly decline and are killed in three to five years.
The insect has been reported in 32 states and three Canadian provinces and is responsible for widespread decline and mortality of hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America.
According to Williston Town Manager Rick McGuire, town staff has prepared for the coming of the emerald ash borer by preemptively replacing ash trees on public land.
The state has also been preparing, according to Julie Moore, head of the Agency of Natural Resources.
“We are taking this infestation seriously and will do everything possible to protect Vermont’s important forest resources for the ecological, social and economic benefits they provide,” she said.
Ash trees comprise approximately 5 percent of Vermont forests and are a common urban tree. There are no proven means to control emerald ash borer in forested areas, though individual trees can sometimes be effectively treated.
State and federal forest health officials have implemented an emergency action plan to determine the extent of the infestation.
Adult emerald ash borers are capable of flying short distances, but humans have accelerated their spread by moving infested material, particularly firewood, long distances. Residents and visitors are reminded to protect Vermont’s forests by buying and burning local firewood.
Landowners with questions are encouraged to contact Chittenden County forester Ethan Tapper at (802)-585-9099, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at his office at 111 West Street, Essex Junction.
Landowners can report a suspected infestation at vtinvasives.org.
“The public plays a critical role in early detection and slowing the spread,” Moore said.