CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — An invasive beetle that has beleaguered 18 other states including Massachusetts and Connecticut has made its way to New Hampshire.
The emerald ash borer, originally from China, has killed millions of ash trees nationwide since being discovered in Michigan in 2002. It’s often spread by people transporting firewood, and much of the outreach nationally has focused on a “Don’t Move Firewood” campaign.
Officials from the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development and the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food said yesterday that a suspect tree was spotted in Concord on March 28, and federal authorities later confirmed that insect specimens from the tree were the invasive beetle.
Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill said the discovery wasn’t unexpected, and that the state is beginning its response, which starts with a survey to determine the extent of the beetle’s presence.
“This is something we’ve been prepared for. (The ash borer) is in neighboring states and we knew it was somewhat inevitable that it would make its way up here,” Merrill said.
The next likely step is quarantine to prevent the removal of ash logs and firewood from any affected areas in the hopes of slowing the pest’s spread, Merrill said. If unchecked, the beetle can devastate ash tree populations, damaging forests.
The metallic green insect’s larvae feed just below the bark and adults go after the leaves. Ash trees where the pest is found typically die within two to five years.
Ash is a commonly used landscape tree and makes up about six percent of New Hampshire’s northern hardwood forests.
It has a wide variety of uses from flooring and furniture to hockey sticks and baseball bats. It’s also preferred for firewood according to Jason Stock with the New Hampshire Timberland Association.