BRIDGEWATER, NJ - An invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees was recently found in Bridgewater, according to a report from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
According to the release, the emerald ash borer was found.
A landscaper was investigating unhealthy trees in a retail area in Bridgewater, the release said, and then alerted the department. Samples and insect larvae were sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Systematic Entomology Laboratory, where the specimens were confirmed.
According to the release, over the past four years, the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection has been participating in an emerald ash borer survey, but no beetles were found in the more than 300 traps set up around New Jersey. The beetles had already been found in Pennsylvania and New York counties that bordered New Jersey.
"We have been rigorously monitoring the EAB's movements and educating the public about what to look for in case the beetle entered our state," New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher said in the release. "Now we will be informing homeowners about the actions they can take to protect their ash trees from this tree-killing insect."
The beetle, the release said, is now present in 23 states and two Canadian provinces, having first been discovered in Michigan in 2002. They have since killed tens of millions of trees.
"Since the emerald ash borer has been active just over our borders for quite a number of years, we expected that it would be found in New Jersey eventually," State Forester Lynn E. Fleming said in the release. "The DEP will work with the Department of Agriculture and other appropriate agencies to educate landowners on how to identify this invasive beetle and mitigate infestations."
The beetle itself is a metallic green insect about half an inch long and eighth of an inch wide. Female beetles, the release said, lay eggs on the bark of ash trees, and, once they hatch, the larvae bore into the bark, cut off the flow of nutrients and eventually kill the tree.
The beetle, the release said, is native to Asia.
At this point, the release said, the plan is for the state to survey trees in the area surrounding the initial find to determine the extent of the infestation. A federal quarantine could be expanded to include New Jersey.
Homeowners can take steps to protect their trees, the release said. Treatment products are available at local establishments, and state-certified pesticide applicators can treat for them. Signs of the beetle include canopy dieback beginning at the top of the tree and progressing until it is bare; sprouts growing from the roots and trunk; split bark with an s-shape gallery; d-shaped exit holes; and woodpecker activity.
Do not move firewood to help prevent the spread of the beetle, the release said. Burn all wood that is purchased.
For more information, visit www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/Emerald_Ash_Borer.htm.