Thursday, November 9th, 2006
By Nancy Allen
State quarantines Mercer County
Tree-killing emerald ash borer is found
  Mercer County is among three additional counties that has been quarantined by the state after the tree-killing emerald ash borer (EMB) was discovered near the village of Rockford.
Hardin and Logan counties also have been quarantined, a news release from the Ohio Department of Agriculture states.
The quarantine now makes it illegal to move ash trees, parts of ash trees and all hardwood firewood - all of which could harbor the insect - out of these counties.
In Mercer County, ODA officials discovered an infestation in one tree on a private lot at the intersection of Township Line Road and U.S. 33 just north of Rockford. Other infestations were found in Hardin County near state Route 68 about a mile north of the county line and in Logan County near state Route 68 about seven miles north of Bellefontaine.
Officials found the infestations while inspecting detection trees - ash trees that state officials removed a ring of bark from the trunks. There are roughly 10,000 detection trees being surveyed. The survey is about 42 percent complete and should be done by the beginning of the year, ODA states.
At that point, the statewide picture will be assessed to see if any targeted tree cutting will be used to help slow the spread of the pest, the release states.
In the meantime, areas that have infestations have been quarantined to stop the spread of the insect. Infested ash trees typically die within five years.
The pest belongs to a group of metallic-colored, wood boring beetles. Adults are dark green, one-half inch long and one-eighth inch wide and fly only from early May until September. Larvae spend the rest of the year beneath the bark of ash trees and when they emerge as adults, they leave D-shaped exit holes in the bark about an eighth of an inch wide.
The public still can freely move hardwood firewood and ash trees inside quarantined counties and to contiguously quarantined areas, but cannot take potentially infested materials outside quarantined areas. Violators face fines of up to $4,000.
Firewood dealers, nursery and lumber businesses or woodlot owners interested in marketing and transporting ash trees or firewood out of quarantined areas can do so only with an ODA-approved compliance agreement. The agreements stipulate handling practices that mitigate the spread of the insect.
"Those businesses can obtain signed compliance agreements with the department that outline operating stipulations they have to follow, but still lets them continue doing business," ODA spokeswoman Melissa Brewer said.
Since it was first found in Ohio in 2003, the emerald ash borer has been found in 25 counties. They are Auglaize, Cuyahoga, Delaware, Defiance, Erie, Franklin, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Logan, Lorain, Lucas, Marion, Medina, Miami, Sandusky, Seneca, Ottawa, Warren, Williams, Wood, Wyandot and now Mercer counties. All of these counties have been quarantined by the state.
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