STOP THE SPREAD
• Don't transport firewood, even within Tennessee.
• Don't buy or move firewood from outside the state.
• Watch for signs of infestation in your ash trees.
• Learn more at www.tn.gov/agriculture/eab and report sightings at 1-800-628-2631.
The emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that destroys trees, has been found in Monroe County northeast of Chattanooga.
Previously, the bug had been found in upper East Tennessee, but it now is moving into Southeast Tennessee.
Gray Haun, Tennessee Department of Agriculture plant certification administrator, said officials have quarantined wood in Monroe and in a dozen other counties in upper East Tennessee.
The quarantine prohibits the movement of firewood, ash nursery stock, ash timber and other material that can spread the borer.
Officials cautioned Tennesseans and travelers not to transport wood, even within the state. The borers, which are beetles, can kill an ash tree within three years of the initial infestation.
"Emerald ash borer surveys are in full swing to determine the extent of the infestation," Haun said in a prepared statement.
The borer attacks only ash trees. Officials believe the insect was introduced in the Detroit area 15 to 20 years ago on wood packing material from Asia.
Since then, the destructive insect has killed millions of ash trees across a number of states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Tennessee agriculture officials estimate 5 million urban ash trees valued in total at $2 billion potentially are at risk. There are an estimated 261 million ash trees on Tennessee public and private timberland potentially valued as high as $9 billion.
In the Volunteer State, Union and Monroe counties were the most recent additions to the quarantine list. Anderson, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins and Roane counties were added last month. Blount, Claiborne, Grainger, Knox, Loudon and Sevier counties were placed under quarantine last year.
Officials will try to trap the ash borers with "big purple traps," Haun said.
The traps are coated with an adhesive that captures insects when they land. The color is thought to be attractive to the borer and is easy for surveyors and residents to spot among the foliage.
Adult borers are dark green, one-half inch in length and one-eighth inch wide. In Tennessee, most borers fly in May and June.
Larvae spend the rest of the year beneath the bark of ash trees. When they emerge as adults, they leave D-shaped holes in the bark about one-eighth inch wide.
Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...