In February, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Foods & Markets reported that emerald ash borer (EAB), a destructive forest insect from Asia, had been detected in Vermont. Officials with the USDA Animal & Plant Health and Inspection Service have confirmed the identification of a beetle recently found in northern Orange County, Vermont. The insect was reported through the VTinvasives.org website.
As of August, EAB has been confirmed in six towns: Orange, Plainfield, Barre, Groton, Montpelier, and Stamford.
EAB overwinter as larvae under the bark of ash trees where they feed on the inner bark tissue. Once infested, ash trees rapidly decline and are killed in 3-5 years. This pest is known to be established in 34 states and four Canadian provinces and is responsible for widespread decline and mortality of hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America.
Ash trees comprise approximately 5% of Vermont forests and are also a very common and important urban tree. EAB threatens white ash, green ash and black ash in Vermont and could have significant ecological and economic impacts. There are no proven means to control EAB in forested areas, though individual trees can sometimes be effectively treated.
State and federal forest health officials have convened and are implementing an emergency action plan in response to the recent EAB detection. A multi-agency delineation survey effort is underway to determine the extent of the EAB infestation. Results of the survey will inform subsequent management recommendations and quarantine decisions and will be released to the public.
Slowing the spread of EAB is very important. While adult EAB are capable of flying short distances, humans have accelerated 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.