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Asian ash beetle confirmed in four more North Texas counties – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

After the invasive Asian ash beetle was discovered in the Great Trinity Forest in Dallas last month, its presence has now been confirmed in four other counties in northern Texas.

The Texas A&M Forest Service confirmed Monday that all beetle samples collected in May in Collin, Franklin, Johnson and Red River counties were the Asian ash jewel beetle, according to the USDA Department of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The non-native small green beetle devastates ash stands by boring into the bark and laying its eggs. The beetle's larvae eventually feed on the tree's water-conducting tissue, slowly killing the tree.

Just last month, the beetle was found in Grayson, Hill, Hood, McLennan and Palo Pinto counties.

“The continued spread of EAB is a major problem for our ash population,” said Allen Smith, regional forest health coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service. “EAB has the potential to wipe out ash as a genus in North America, meaning there will be no more ash trees.”

For illustration purposes, an invasive Asian ash beetle is shown next to a pocket knife.
For illustration purposes, an invasive Asian ash beetle is shown next to a pocket knife.

Once the presence of EAB is confirmed in a county, the Texas Department of Agriculture steps in and imposes a quarantine that prohibits the transportation of wood and ash material out of the county. However, the material can be shipped to other counties that are also under quarantine.

“Because EAB is inadvertently transported on firewood and wood products, quarantine helps slow the spread of the beetle by limiting the movement of wood into and out of affected areas,” said Demian Gomez, regional forest health coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Dallas, Denton, Parker and Tarrant counties – all areas where the bug has also been confirmed – are under the same quarantine.

The Texas A&M Forest Service says both healthy and weakened trees of all ash species are susceptible to EAB infestation and have no natural resistance to the pest. Most trees die within two to five years of infestation and without proper preventive measures, mortality can be 100% in some areas, so early detection is critical.

“There is no known way to stop the spread of EAB,” Gomez said. “But communities can minimize loss, diversify their tree species, and improve the health and resilience of urban forests.”

The beetle may have first been discovered in North Texas in 2018 by a 10-year-old boy from Tarrant County who took a photo of the insect because he thought it looked “really weird.” The boy uploaded the photo to an online database for naturalists, where scientists from other states and countries eventually discovered it and identified it as a possible Asian ash beetle. Experts from the Texas A&M Forest Service were notified and investigated the boy's findings. The EAB was first discovered in Texas in 2016 in Harrison County (between Longview, TX and Shreveport, LA).

WHAT IS AN EMERALD ASH BORER?

The Asian ash beetle is a small beetle, green in color and smaller than a penny.

The beetle bores into the bark of the tree and lays eggs. The larvae feed on water-conducting tissue and eventually kill the tree.

According to officials, the insect has been detected in more than half of the United States and has killed millions of ash trees.

“Both healthy and diseased ash trees are susceptible to EAB infestation and can die within two or three years of infestation,” said Allen Smith, regional forest health coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service, in an interview with NBC 5 in May 2022. “Ash trees have no natural resistance to the exotic insect. Without proper preventive measures, mortality can be 100% in heavily infested areas, so early detection could improve our chances of controlling the pest.”

Ash trees with low numbers of EAB often show few or no outward symptoms of infestation. However, residents can look for signs of EAB on their ash trees, including dead branches near the tree crown, leaf shoots sprouting from the trunk, bark cracks exposing S-shaped larval tunnels, extensive woodpecker activity, and D-shaped exit holes.

The beetle was first discovered in Michigan, North America, in 2002 and has since spread to over 25 states, destroying millions of ash trees.

To report the Asian ash beetle, please call the EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512.

Tree-killing Asian ash beetle confirmed in Cooke County.