Impact of the ash borer
Last month, folks in Vance, Granville, and Person Counties were told that these counties were now under a quarantine for certain wood products because of the detection of the emerald ash borer. This is the first time this insect has been detected in N.C. Since then, the N.C. Forest Service has conducted training sessions for forest industry personnel, Cooperative Extension agents and others related to the forest industry. People who work in the landscape and parks industries were also included in those training sessions, as the quarantine affects them, too.
This quarantine prohibits the movement of any hardwood firewood out of the quarantine area. That’s because ash may be included in that load of firewood, and most people can’t identify ash just by looking at the bark on a stick of firewood. Coincidentally, much of the spread of the emerald ash borer has been associated people staying at parks, bringing firewood with them, and/or procuring firewood while at the park and transporting that infested firewood back home – out of the quarantine area. For clarification, firewood can be brought into the quarantine area, but once is crosses the line, that firewood is considered quarantined and must stay in the area. The N.C. Forest Service and the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation are asking for everyone’s cooperation in not transporting firewood out of the quarantine zone. They are also encouraging campers to get their firewood locally, near the campsite, rather than bring it from home.
This has put a damper on folks who cut and sell firewood for part of their annual income. The quarantine prevents the movement of hardwood firewood to their normal markets and customers, who are still outside the quarantine area. Loggers are not allowed to move ash logs out of the quarantine area, either. That means that the loader operators must separate the ash logs from the other hardwood species if the load is going to a mill outside the quarantine. Ash logs can be transported within the quarantine area with no restrictions.
While the quarantine is having an impact on the wood industry, the emerald ash borer is also impacting landscaped areas, including public parks and private lawns. The insect looks for and finds ash trees to infest in both forests and in urban areas. The actual impact of this pest may actually be felt most strongly in landscaped areas that use ash trees. A single ash tree that is a focal point of a landscaped area leaves a lot bigger hole than an ash tree in a forest that is removed.
Cooperative Extension agents and foresters with the N.C. Forest Service are fielding calls from forest owners and homeowners requesting assistance in determining if their ash trees are infested or not, and information on what can be done to protect their ash trees. In landscaped areas, it is possible to use an insecticide that is approved for use in landscapes to protect ash trees. Contact your Cooperative Extension service office for help in determining if using an insecticide would be worthwhile on individual ash trees. In a forest setting, it may not be practical to use an insecticide, so the most effective control method may be the removal of infested trees.
The N.C. Forest Service has some good pictures of ash borer damage and symptoms of infested trees at na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/pest_al/eab/eab.pdf. They also have a page with frequently asked questions at ncforestservice.gov/forest_health/fh_eabfaq.htm.
For more information on the emerald ash borer, call your local Cooperative Extension Center at (252) 438-8188 for Vance County or (919) 603-1350 for Granville County.