Invasive Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Western Massachusetts

The Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive Asian beetle that has ravaged ash trees across the midwest and northeastern United States and Canada, has been detected for the first time in Massachusetts, and state officials are taking quick action to keep the beetle from spreading.

The Emerald Ash Borer was first found in Southeastern Michigan ten years ago. Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Ed Lambert says the Emerald Ash Borer’s presence was confirmed in Dalton in the Berkshires last week, but the beetle may have already spread into more of western Massachusetts. Lambert says the DCR will quarantine Ash wood in part, or all, of Berkshire county. He says Massachusetts is the eighteenth state to confirm the beetle’s presence, and state officials have anticipated the beetle’s arrival for several years.

“Connecticut … determined the presence earlier this year, and New York has had the Borer within its borders for some time.”

The tiny, green beetle has caused the loss of 70 million trees since 2002, says Bob Childs, an entomology professor at UMass Amherst. Childs says the Emerald Ash Borer lands high up on an ash tree, then lays its eggs beneath the tree’s bark. He says the larvae hatch within the bark, and eventually sever the Ash tree’s vascular system.

“We start noticing the tree dying from the top down, and by the time we really see that the tree is in decline, it means its been attacked for two to three years, and it’s usually too late to save that tree, and we lose it.”

State officials say burning firewood close to its source, rather than transporting it, is the most effective way to keep Emerald Ash Borers, and other invasive species, from spreading.

For more information on the Emerald Ash Borer, click here.