By Nancy Allen
The tree killing emerald ash borer has been found in Auglaize County in ash trees north of Wapakoneta.
A news release from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) says department officials found two infested ash trees at rest areas on both sides of Interstate 75 while responding to a concerned citizen's call.
The exotic insect from Asia already has been found in nine other counties and was first discovered in Ohio in 2003.
The beetle lays eggs within ash wood, and the larvae that hatch from those eggs gnaw at layers beneath the bark, killing the tree by cutting off its nourishment. The trees typically die within three to five years.
State officials are investigating the origin of the local infestation. It likely was brought to Auglaize County by humans, possibly in firewood, nursery stock, logs or other ash tree materials from a quarantined area. In Auglaize County, all ash trees, visibly infested or not, within a half-mile radius of the infested trees will be destroyed by cutting them down, chipping them and incineration. This is the only known way of eradicating the insects in an already infested area, said Melissa Brewer, an ODA spokeswoman.
Brewer said the state currently does not have any funds to destroy infested trees and will have to wait until fall before it receives any more funding. State officials normally would not destroy the trees until fall anyway, because that is when the insect is in its larval stage under the tree bark and more easily destroyed.
Brewer encouraged residents to be on the lookout for the insect.
"Although the concentrated areas of infestation in the state are in northwest Ohio, citizens need to be concerned and monitoring signs of the emerald ash borer and calling if they think they have found it," she said. "In Auglaize County somebody brought that into the area through either firewood, nursery stock or other ash material."
Brewer said the Auglaize County infestation was reported by a Michigan traveler who stopped at the rest area.
To date, the emerald ash borer also has been found in Delaware, Defiance, Franklin, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa and Wood counties in Ohio. ODA currently has eradicated the pest from Franklin and Defiance counties.
It was first discovered in the United States in 2002 near Detroit. It is thought to have traveled to Michigan in shipping containers with packing material from Asia.
The beetle has destroyed millions of trees in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.
Quarantines for the entire state of Michigan, a portion of northwest Ohio and Steuben and La Grange counties in Indiana make it illegal for anyone to move firewood and ash tree material out of those areas. Violators face fines up to $4,000 for doing so.
The adult insect is metallic green in color and the larvae leave winding, serpentine shaped tunnels under the bark on the surface of the wood. The larvae make D-shaped exit holes in ash trees when they come out.
Signs to look for include dead limbs on the top third of ash trees and vertical splits in the bark.
To report a possible infestation, call 888-644-6322. For more information and a map of the latest infestations go to www.ohioagriculture.gov/eab.