The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed that insects collected from ash trees in South Hero are larvae of the emerald ash borer, Vermont state officials announced this month.
The location is about 50 miles from the closest confirmed emerald ash borer infestation in Vermont. First discovered in the state in February, the invasive insect so far has been confirmed in Orange, Washington, Caledonia and Bennington counties.
State and federal officials plan to survey the South Hero location to determine the extent of the newly detected infestation. Landowners and others are urged to look for signs and symptoms of the insect and report suspicious findings on vtinvasives.org. The website has detailed information about the pest. A Department of Agriculture video about the insect is also online at bit.ly/2lZ9flo.
Ash borers are likely to be present within 10 miles of known infestations, officials said. In addition to other Champlain Island communities, that distance would extend south to parts of Burlington, Winooski and Essex and Westford, and north toward St. Albans, and east-southeast to Georgia, Milton, Westford and Essex.
The bug spreads via infested material, so it’s important for Vermonters to follow recommendations such as only buying local firewood, officials said.
Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves water and sugars in the trunk. It was first discovered in North America near Detroit in 2002, and over the past 16 years it has decimated ash populations. To date, it’s known to be in 35 states including Maine and Rhode Island, and five Canadian provinces.
Ash trees comprise approximately 5 percent of Vermont forests and are a very common urban tree. The infestation threatens white ash, green ash and black ash.
A public information meeting will be scheduled soon for northwestern Vermont, officials said.