Emerald Ash Borer Found in Middle Tennessee

Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect that destroys ash trees, has been found in Middle Tennessee for the first time. The find, in Smith County, is of particular concern because of the distance the insect was found from the already quarantined areas in East Tennessee. The location in Smith County where four EAB were caught is at Cordell Hull Lake in the Elmwood/Granville area.

“It is unfortunate, yet typical, to have found this destructive pest at a campground well outside the known area of infestation,” said Tim Phelps, Public Outreach Specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry. “Tree-killing insects, such as EAB, and diseases can lurk in firewood. These insects and diseases can’t move far on their own, but when people move fire­wood they can jump hundreds of miles. New infestations destroy forests, property val­ues, and cost huge sums of money to control.”

Smith County, along with Jefferson County which was confirmed by USDA to have EAB at the same time as Smith, will now be added to the Emerald Ash Borer quarantine. A total of 12 counties have been added to the list this spring and summer including Greene, Campbell, Cocke, Union, Monroe, Anderson, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins and Roane. Blount, Claiborne, Grainger, Knox, Loudon and Sevier counties were placed under quarantine last year. The quarantine prohibits the movement of firewood, ash nursery stock, ash timber and other material that can spread EAB. With the new discovery, citizens can expect expanded surveys and should report any symptomatic ash trees to TDA.

“It’s a great time of year to go camping,” said Phelps. “Let’s all do our part to slow the spread of this insect by not moving firewood around while camping or hunting and fishing.”

The serious threat that the movement of firewood causes to Tennessee’s forests is not limited to EAB. Other forest pests also move around on firewood including Hemlock Woolly Adelgid that kills eastern hemlocks, Thousand Cankers Disease that kill black walnut, and Gypsy Moth that kills oaks and other species – all pests known to exist in Tennessee. While it has not been detected in Tennessee yet, the arrival of Asian Long-horned Beetle is feared since it kills more than one species including maples, birches, ash, sycamore, poplar, hackberry and others. It, too, is commonly introduced to new areas by movement of firewood.

TDA urges area residents and visitors to help prevent the spread of EAB and other forest pests:

  • Leave firewood at home – don’t transport it to campgrounds or parks.
  • Use firewood from local sources near where you’re going to burn it, or purchase firewood that is certified to be free of pests (it will say so on the label included with the packaging).
  • If you have moved firewood, burn all of it before leaving your campsite.
  • Watch for signs of infestation in your ash trees. If you suspect your ash tree could be infested with EAB, visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/regulatory/eab.shtml for a symptoms checklist and report form or call TDA’s Regulatory Services Division at 1-800-628-2631.

For more information about EAB and other destructive forest pests in Tennessee, visit the new website: www.protecttnforests.org. The site is a multi-agency effort to inform and educate Tennesseans on the harmful impacts insects and diseases have on our trees, where the problem spots are, and what landowners can do to help protect their trees.

About Greg Tomerlin

I enjoy gardening, keeping bees, birding, the outdoors, and visiting State & Local Parks and Greenways.
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