A bug coming all the way from China is wreaking havoc on our trees. Already spotted in parts of New York and nearby areas of Connecticut, many say Fairfield County is next.
“It’s in Westchester County, New Haven County and northern areas of Litchfield County. So, it’s only a matter of time that we are squeezed on all three sides and the Ash Bore makes its presence here,” said Westport's Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay.
Formally known as the Emerald Ash Borer, it’s a small, green beetle – that feeds off ash trees. And, while it may be small, running about a half an inch long or give you a better picture the size of this penny, it’s deadly. So, far it’s killed tens of millions of ash trees.
Here in Connecticut, ash trees make up about 4 percent of the total tree population. And, Westport’s Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay says this threat is could be costly.
"Coming to you and saying - oh we have a bunch of ash trees that are going to die, you can say - oh we have all these other trees. But that amount of loss you have to think about all the oxygen they are producing, the shade, the landscape," said Linsay.
The beetle travelled to the States back in the 90's, likely coming from Asia on ash wood. Come 2002 it was officially discovered in Detroit, and flash forward ten years, Connecticut got the first taste of its destruction.
"In 2012 it was discovered in Prospect and Bethany Connecticut, that summer it went from 2 to 17, that summer it increased to 26 and now it's at 35 towns," said Lindsay.
What makes this bug so toxic centers around how it grows. The Emerald Ash goes through a complete metamorphosis inside the tree. Starting as an egg on top on the tree’s bark, it soon moves inside the tree as larva. That larva then feeds on a tissue essential to the tree’s food source. And, after about two years, the larva grows into an adult, usually emerging by the Summer. By then, the tree is dead.
A definite sign of these beetles is the D-shaped hole left by the emerging adult when it chews its way out of the tree.
"What makes them really hard to detect is that you will never see the larva active below the bark because it's so tiny that by the time you see it, it will be too late," said Lindsay.
Now Connecticut is taking action in its fight against these bugs. A quarentine has been established, regulating the movement of ash logs and hardwood firewood from Fairfield, Hartfod, Litchfied and News Haven Counties. Plus, firewood can’t be transported in or out of the state.
For more information on the outbreak, you can go Connecticut’s Environmental and Energy Department’s website: www.ct.gov/deep