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The extent of damage derived from the emerald ash borer beetle

Updated on February 4, 2009

 Have you ever wondered why the United States are so strict on importing goods from other countries? Did you ever fly over seas and once on the flight back had to fill one of those custom/agricultural declaration forms stating that you are not importing any forbidden agricultural items?  Well the answers to your queries is the fact that many pests imported from other countries may cause devastating damage to the American crops, the Emerald Borer Beetle being one of them.

It is very likely that this exotic beetle originally native  from Asia, was accidentally imported to the United States along with solid wood packing material traveling in cargo ships or airplanes. Once abroad, the Emerald Ash borer beetle, scientifically classified as Agrilus planipennis settled on the US soil and called this place home.

Discovered only in Michigan in June of 2002,  the adult beetles appeared to be rather innocuous simply nibbling on the foliage of Ash trees. However, only later it was discovered that the actual larvae were feeding on the tree's bark causing the tree to be unable to effectively transport vital water and nutrients.  Once the ash trees began to starve slowing, most ultimately perished within two years.

To make the story short,  the Emerald Ash borer beetle was able to produce substantial damage to millions of ash trees causing them to perish. The most affected trees were those of Michigan, however the beetle was then spread into unaffected areas and began to cause damage in many different forests across the States.

Such damage did not only hurt forests and parks but the extent of damage financially hurt as well many nurseries, property owners and municipalities. It is estimated that the damage has cost  tens of millions of dollars. Also many parks and forests were quarantined and fines were implemented to prevent this devastating beetle to further spread across more States.

Currently many universities and agencies are working hard in keeping this beetle under control. Several studies are underway to identify a possible insecticide or natural predator that may bring down the numbers of this devastating bug. Any ordinary person in their little can give a hand by being able to recognize this beetle, learning how  to identify possibly affected trees and properly disposing of them. A good place to start learning more what to look for can be found here.

As seen, a simple shipment from another country can turn into a devastating and costly nightmare to our forests. While more studies are underway, people must be educated on this bug and how to prevent it from spreading. By refraining from transporting ash wood from quarantined areas and by keeping an eye for signs and symptoms of this beetle's infestation, in our little we can really do a lot for our environment.


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