Invasive insect found in Monroe County

Invasive insect found in Monroe County

June 14th, 2012 by Pam Sohn in News

An adult emerald ash borer is shown in aphoto provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The highly destructive insects that kill ash trees are metallic green and about a half-inch long and have been found in Monroe County, Tenn.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.


• 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 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.