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Invasive Beetle Found in North Texas

Emerald ash borer beetle
Emerald ash borer | Image by Herman Wong HM/Shutterstock

An invasive beetle has been spotted across several North Texas counties.

A news release from the Texas A&M Forest Service confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer (EAB) beetles, which are killing ash trees across the state.

The EAB beetle is a destructive, non-native wood-boring pest of ash trees. Although the beetle originates from Asia, it was initially detected in North America in Michigan in 2002, per Texas A&M Forest Service.

The beetle first appeared in Texas in 2016 after four adult beetles were caught and confirmed in Harrison County.

Currently, the pesky beetle has been confirmed in Grayson, Hill, Hood, McLennan, and Palo Pinto counties.

“The spread of EAB to these counties is alarming,” said Allen Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service’s regional forest health coordinator, in the press release. “It’s more likely for EAB to spread to adjacent counties, but the spread to McLennan County indicates that EAB is being spread by humans, which can be prevented.”

To prevent the spread of these beetles, Texas A&M Forest Service regularly works to set traps and monitor their presence. Specimens are then sent to the U.S. Department of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s national lab for testing.

“Since 2018, we annually deploy nearly 500 traps across Central, East and North Texas, watching for the insect’s presence and movement,” Smith explained. “Both healthy and unhealthy ash trees are susceptible to EAB attack and have no natural resistance to the invasive insect. Without proper proactive measures, mortality can be 100% in heavily infested areas — so early detection could improve our chances to manage for the pest.”

Once the beetle’s presence is confirmed within a county, the Texas Department of Agriculture is required to restrict the movement of any woody ash material leaving the county or a quarantined area.

Demian Gomez, Texas A&M Forest Service’s regional forest health coordinator, said in the press release that quarantine measures help slow the spread of the beetle, especially by humans transporting firewood and wood products.

Affected trees will die within two to five years following the infestation.

“There is no known way to stop the spread of EAB,” said Gomez. “But we can help communities minimize loss, diversify their tree species, and increase the health and resiliency of urban forests.”

If anyone spots signs of infestation by these invasive beetles, they are asked to call the EAB hotline at 1-866-322-4512. D-shaped exit holes, dead branches near the top of a tree, and larval galleries (swirly lines) under the bark are hallmarks of EAB beetles.

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