Invasive pest impacting Eastern North Carolina trees

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A highly invasive beetle, not new to North Carolina, has now made its way into the East.

According to the North Carolina Forest Service, the Emerald Ash Borer has now impacted five new counties in ENC, infecting and killing ash trees.

The metallic green beetle bores into trees and feeds on tissues beneath the bark. Typically, by the time you see any symptoms, the tree is too far gone.

According to Pitt County Extension Director, Matt Stevens, the beetle was first found in the state in June of 2013. The invasive species is now impacting counties such as Bertie, Duplin, Anson, Sampson, and Martin. The total number of affected counties in the state is 76.

“They are winged insects so they do fly and migrate sort of that way but they are also transported by plant material and firewood especially. Sometimes you go camping and they have warnings about not bringing in firewood or taking firewood from the location and it’s because of the emerald ash borer that they don’t want to spread,” Stevens said.

According to the N-C Forest Service, the entire state is under quarantine for the beetle. That prohibits the movement of ash plant parts, the insect itself, ash nursery stock, and all hardwood firewood into non-quarantined areas, including some neighboring states.

The state forest service recommends people burn local or treated firewood to reduce the spread of invasive pests.

People who suspect an infested tree in an area should contact their county ranger.