Tennessee is the middle of an invasion from a tiny foreign, green beetle.
“We want to try to keep it out of the camp grounds, keep it out of the local communities and certainly out of our forests,” explained Tim Phelps, Public Outreach Specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry.
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) beetle was discovered in east Tennessee in 2010, but just recently it was found in Smith County.
“We are very concerned about it and the fact that it is now found and discovered in Smith [County] is of great concern to Middle Tennessee.”
According to officials, the EAB attacks and feed on ash trees, eventually causing the entire tree to die.
The beetle is believed to have been introduced into the United States through wood packing material from Asia. The EAB was first detected and named in Michigan in 2002.
Since the beetle does not have any natural enemies in this country it has been able to thrive. The larvae feed on the inner bark and carve small trails as it eats its way around the tree which disrupts the trees ability to transport water and nutrients.
A tree will usually completely die around three years after it is attacked.
The small adult beetles are about one-half inch in length and are a dark green color and have been able to quickly spread thanks to human help.
“It has been shown that largely it's by humans that are spreading it around, largely on firewood,” Phelps said.
It is prohibited to move any firewood to or from a quarantined county like Smith County.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is urging residents and visitors to help prevent the spread of EAB by not transporting firewood when camping. Officials recommend buying firewood from the area where it will be burned.
“If you have moved firewood at a campsite burn it all, do not bring it back home with you,” said Phelps.
Taking a few simple precautions will help protect Middle Tennessee trees from further invasions.