Beetle that kills ash trees now in four Connecticut counties

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station announced today that the emerald ash borer infestation, previously centered in New Haven County, has expanded into Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, and Middlesex counties and has now been detected in a total of 38 towns.

The new towns where the beetle has been detected this year include: Ansonia, Branford, Bristol, Clinton, Cromwell, Derby, Durham, Litchfield, Meriden, New Haven, North Haven, Orange, Plainville, Rocky Hill, Seymour, Shelton, Thomaston, Trumbull, Wallingford, West Haven, Wolcott, Woodbridge, Woodbury. The insects were previously found in Beacon Falls, Bethany, Cheshire, Hamden, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Newtown, North Branford, Oxford, Prospect, Sherman, Southbury, Southington, and Waterbury in 2012 or 2013. Additional detections are anticipated, the experiment station said in a news release.

The emerald ash borer is a destructive insect and has been responsible for the death and decline of tens of millions of ash trees from Colorado and the mid-west to New England and south to Georgia. Ash makes up 4 to 15 percent of Connecticut’s forests and represents about 2 to 3 percent of the urban trees in many communities.

“Unfortunately, we are now seeing a lot of dead and dying ash in New Haven County and more ash trees will die as a result of this expanding infestation,” Kirby C. Stafford III, state entomologist, said in a press release.

When EAB is found, municipalities and homeowners can assess their ash trees and plan for the impact of this beetle. High value trees and lightly infested trees can be treated with systemic insecticides to protect them, the experiment station said. Untreated ash trees will be lost and can die within two to three years once infested. Ash trees quickly decline and become hazardous, requiring removal, depending upon their location and risk to people and property.

“The spread of EAB within our state poses a severe and imminent threat to ash trees on both private and public property,” state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee said. “It is critical for property owners to assess the condition of their ash trees and make decisions to treat trees with appropriate chemicals to try to save them or to remove trees that pose safety risks. We also strongly encourage property owners to utilize only licensed and insured professionals to either treat or remove their ash trees.”

Many EAB detections have been made by monitoring the ground-nesting native wasp that hunts many wood-boring beetles, including the emerald ash borer. The wasp is an effective “biological surveillance” survey tool and does not sting people or pets, according to Claire Rutledge, who runs the experiment station’s survey program. In addition, purple detection traps have been set across Middlesex, Tolland, Windham, and New London counties by Thomas Worthley of the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System. The surveillance programs are supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In Connecticut, quarantine had previously been established that regulates the movement of ash logs, ash materials, ash nursery stock, and hardwood firewood from within Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven Counties to any area outside of those counties to help slow the spread of the beetle. The quarantine applies to only those four counties and mirrors a federal quarantine also imposed on the four counties.

With the detection of emerald ash borer in Middlesex County and rapid expansion of the infestation to five of the state’s eight counties, the experiment station plans to add Middlesex, New London, Tolland, and Windham counties to the quarantine. A public hearing will be take place in August at the experiment station’s research center at 190 Sheldon Road in Griswold, on a date still to be determined.

Regulations also are in effect regulating the movement of firewood from out-of-state into Connecticut or within Connecticut.

For information about the current quarantine and the firewood regulations, visit: www.ct.gov/deep/eab or www.ct.gov/caes.

For information about the emerald ash borer, visit: www.emeraldashborer.info. A fact sheet with guidelines on the treatment of ash trees to protect them from emerald ash borer can be found at: www.ct.gov/caes.

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