TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive tree-killing beetle, has been spreading across East Texas rapidly, already killing millions of trees.

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the beetle has been confirmed to be killing trees in 11 counties in Texas, with five of those being added to the list just this year alone.

Native to Asia, the Emerald Ash Borer beetle (EAB) was unknown in North America until its discovery in southeast Michigan in 2002.

Since then it has killed millions of trees throughout 35 states. The first detection of the beetle in Texas happened in Harrison County and it has also been confirmed to be in the following East Texas counties:

  • Bowie
  • Cass
  • Marion
  • Rusk

“The pest is a major threat to urban, suburban and rural forests as it aggressively kills ash trees within two to three years after infestation,” stated Demian Gomez, Texas A&M Forest Service Regional Forest Health Coordinator in a press release.

Once a beetle is detected to match the description of an Emerald Ash Borer, specimens are sent in to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. After lab confirmation, the county will be added to the list of Texas jurisdictions under quarantine by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

How EAB Beetles kill trees:

  • Weaken trees in the winter and kills them in the summer
  • Adult beetles lay larvae in the bark of trees late in the summer
  • Larvae feed under the bark disrupting the flow of nutrients within the tree, potentially damaging the transport of water to the leaves of the tree
  • As the beetles emerge as adults, they leave D-shaped holes in the bark about one-eighth inch wide

Symptoms to look for in trees:

  • Dead branches near the top of a tree
  • Leafy shoots sprouting from the trunk
  • Bark splits exposing larval galleries
  • Extensive woodpecker activity
  • D‐shaped exit holes

“The rapid spread of EAB (the beetle) will be detrimental to our ash tree population, potentially killing millions of trees as it spreads across Texas,” Gomez said. “The devastation of our ash tree population will have an economic impact of billions of dollars, alter forest structure and composition and negatively affect the animal communities that rely on the tree species to survive.”

Communities and residents can find resources on identifying, managing and creating a community preparedness plan for EAB infestations here

To report a possible Emerald Ash Borer, call 866-322-4512.

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