This destructive pest was found for the first time in Connecticut this summer, the first New England state to achieve this dubious distinction. Its presence was confirmed in Prospect, CT and a new probable infestation is also suspected in Naugatuck State Forest. The emerald ash borer (EAB) has killed tens of millions of trees in the 15 other states where it is now found, from the Midwest, south to Tennessee, and east to New York. In Connecticut vulnerable ash trees make up about 4-15 percent of the forests and are a commonly planted landscape tree. "This is a disturbing discovery and one that has the potential for great environmental harm in the state," said Commissioner Daniel C. Esty of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
The surveillance method that first revealed this new infestation is interesting. A native ground-nesting wasp, Cerceris fumipennis, hunts for beetles in the family Buprestidae, which includes the EAB. The female wasp brings back beetles to her burrow to feed the developing wasp larvae. Monitors check the nests to see if any EAB show up. According to the DEEP, "The wasp provides a highly efficient and effective 'bio-surveillance' survey tool and does not sting people or pets."
One of the common ways that EAB is spread long distances is through the movement of infested firewood. If you are purchasing firewood this fall, either buy locally harvested wood or make sure that the wood is not from areas of EAB infestation. Check with your state conservation department for the most current advice regarding firewood movement quarantines.
For more information on the discovery of EAB in Connecticut, go to: Connecticut DEEP. For more information on EAB, including how to identify this pest, go to: EAB. For information on state firewood movement quarantines, go to: Moving Firewood.
Article published on August 17, 2012.