There is a little bug that does big damage to ash trees. The emerald ash borer came from Russia and Asia, but has made its home in parts of the U.S. and Canada. North Carolina is not host to the beetle yet, but agriculture officials admit it’s just a matter of time before the destructive pest crosses the border from Virginia or Tennessee. State and federal officials are doing everything they can to ensure that day is later rather than sooner.
Just last week, David Pearce, an NCDA&CS plant protection specialist, spotted a load of ash logs from Pennsylvania while conducting an inspection at a North Carolina business. The logs were found to be infested with EAB larvae. Since the load would have passed through a federal quarantine zone to be delivered to the log yard in Carteret County, Pearce relayed the information to authorities with the Plant Protection and Quarantine branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. APHIS called for aggressive mitigation measures, which included placing the ash logs in 200-degree water for 24 hours and burning the bark to kill any life stages of the EAB. Pearce helped to oversee that the load was properly treated to minimize any risk of the beetle being introduced to the surrounding area.
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler commends Pearce for his sharp eye and immediate action to ensure the load was quarantined. “The emerald ash borer is a serious threat to all of our native ash species across the state,” Troxler said. “I can’t underscore the importance to everyone in lumber, landscaping and other related industries of being aware of, and abiding by, quarantine zones. They are in place to protect our multibillion-dollar agribusiness industry.”
The log shipment did not have the necessary approvals to be transported out of the quarantine zone, and both the sending and receiving companies are being investigated. APHIS may assess penalties based on the outcome of its investigation.