The Emerald Ash Borer, an ash tree-destroying pest, has been found in a twelfth Pennsylvania County. Workers with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources spotted an infestation in Graceville, a mile east of Breezewood and less than a mile from the Fulton County line.
Walt Blosser of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture says the DCNR staff were driving through the area and noticed extensive damage due to woodpeckers which is a common sign of insect infestation. Blosser says beetle samples were collected and it was confirmed that they were Emerald Ash Borers.
In response to this discovery, the state-imposed quarantine on hardwoods is being expanded to Bedford County. Blosser says people should use only local hardwoods.
The invasive beetle was first detected in Pennsylvania in the summer of 2007 in Butler County, and subsequently was found in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Indiana, Juniata, Lawrence, Mercer, Mifflin, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
The pest, which is native to China and eastern Asia likely arrived in North America in wooden shipping crates. It was first detected in July 2002 in southeastern Michigan and neighboring Windsor, Ontario, Canada. In addition to Pennsylvania, the beetle is attacking ash trees in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, and is responsible for the death and decline of more than 40 million trees. Typically, the beetles will kill an ash tree within three years of the initial infestation.
Blosser says eradication efforts in other states have failed so Pennsylvania officials are trying a containment approach to give researchers some time to develop bio-control options and new pesticides.