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Invasive Insect Threatens Missouri Ash Trees

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The Missouri Department of Conservation has found an invasive tree pest in 11 Missouri counties.

Emerald Ash Borers infest Ash trees by burrowing deep underneath the bark of the tree and cutting off its water supply.

MDC Forest Entomologist Rob Lawrence explained that buying or harvesting firewood locally is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of invasive insects.

“It takes them a long time on their own, years or decades, to move very far,” Lawrence said. “But it only takes a short time, around a day or so, to move a hundred miles or more if you’re moving firewood.”

Ash Trees only account for around 3% of Missouri’s native forests, but the tree is extremely popular with landscaping companies due to its fast growth and the ample shade it provides.

The Missouri Invasive Forest Pest Council said Ash Trees can account for up to 30%-40% of the trees in neighborhoods and parks.

When Ash trees die due to infestation they can become threats to public safety, and are often expensive to remove.

Dead branches, “D” shaped holes and increased woodpecker activity are all signs that ash borers have infested a tree.

Lawrence said that yearly pesticide injections are a good way to prevent the insects from affecting landscapes.

The MDC said buying or harvesting firewood within 10 miles of its origin is the best way to ensure that the insects don’t continue to spread throughout the state.

The Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Platte, Clay, Jackson, Pulaski, St. Charles, St. Louis City, Perry, Madison, Bollinger, Wayne, Butler, and Reynolds counties, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

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