Tree-Invading Insect Spreads to South

WEST MONROE / EL DORADO -- A foreign bug is spreading across parts of the US. And it's closer to Louisiana than ever. Though it's not an immediate threat to people, it can cause big problems for local hardwood trees.

According to the LSU Ag Center, the invasive insect is found throughout the Midwest and is now in 21 states as far south as Arkansas and Georgia.

"the place that it was found in Arkansas was hot springs which is a common tourist destination with a lot of campgrounds, said Dr. Joshua Adams, an assistant professor at the School of Forestry at Louisiana Tech University. "And it hadn't been found anywhere near that area of Arkansas."
"We would have expected it to come in through the northern part of the state. Most likely it was imported through firewood."

But, there are still no signs of the emerald ash borer in Louisiana. According to the USDA Forest Service, the beetle only moves about 15 to 20 miles per year by itself. But, when people move firewood, it speeds the bug spreading process up, increasing the threat to ash trees.

"The biggest thing that we can do as citizens is just not move firewood outside of the immediate area where you want to burn," Adams commented. "If everybody could do that we could very much contain this threat"

The foreign beetle invades u-s ash trees that are more susceptible than their Asian counterparts, where the emerald ash borer is believed to have originated.

"Most of the time, we're going to see the effects and the signs of the beetle after they've already left unfortunately which makes it hard to contain," Adams stated.

Adams says one of the signs is the crowns of trees losing their leaves.

"We see a lot of sprouting from the base of these trees or we see holes where woodpeckers are trying to get the larvae of the beetle, we may have a problem," explained Adams.

Ash, a hardwood tree, is commonly used in furniture and flooring. It's found all over the delta.

"If you drive down I-20, you have passed thousands of ash between Monroe and Rayville," said Adams.

Adams says contact the Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commission if you see any signs of the invasive species.

"If this gets into the delta to Ouachita Parish or surrounding parishes where we have large stands that have a large ash component to them, we will not be able to reel it back in," Adams said. "The forest will be decimated as far as its ash component... it will just look very different."

More Stories

Don't Miss

Latest News