A tree-killing invasive beetle turned up in another Connecticut town — this time, in the northern Fairfield County town of Sherman. It’s the first time the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has been found in the county, but it has been previously identified in 11 other Connecticut towns.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station announced the emerald ash borer was detected on July 19. The identification of ash borer has been confirmed by the federal regulatory officials in the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine.
This new county detection, like that of the initial New Haven County detection in 2012, was made through the Experiment Station’s Cerceris wasp biosurveillance program.
In Connecticut, a quarantine has previously been established that regulates the movement of ash logs, ash materials, ash nursery stock, and hardwood firewood from within New Haven County to any area outside of that county. The New Haven County quarantine mirrors a federal quarantine also imposed on New Haven County. This Fairfield County detection will result in the expansion of the state and federal quarantines in Connecticut.
The emerald ash borer is responsible for the death and decline of tens of millions of ash trees and has been detected in 20 states from Kansas and Michigan to New Hampshire and south to North Carolina. Ash makes up about 4% to 15% of Connecticut’s forests and is a common urban tree.
In Connecticut, the insects were previously confirmed in Prospect, Naugatuck, Bethany, Beacon Falls, Waterbury, Cheshire, Oxford, Middlebury, Hamden, North Branford, and Southbury, all in New Haven County, as part of surveys conducted by Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the U.S. Forest Service, and the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension via an agreement with USDA in joint efforts to detect the presence of ash borer in the state or determine the extent of the current New Haven County infestation. The Hamden detection was initially reported by a homeowner. The ash borer has also been identified in Dutchess County, New York, Berkshire County, Massachusetts and Merrimack County, New Hampshire.
A single specimen of ash borer was recovered in Sherman from the ground-nesting, native wasp (Cerceris fumipennis), which hunts beetles in the family Buprestidae, including the emerald ash borer. The wasp is an efficient and effective “biosurveillance” survey tool and does not sting people or pets. In addition, 307 purple prism detection traps have been set across the state, excluding New Haven County, by the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System. The ash borer surveillance program is supported by the USDA.
Non-stinging Chinese wasps were introduced earlier this year to hunt the beetles.
“This latest detection and those in an expanding area of New Haven County show how invasive this insect can be — putting more of our ash trees at risk.” said State Entomologist Kirby C. Stafford III. “Not moving firewood or ash is the best way to help slow the spread of ash borer.”
“Now that ash borer has been detected in another Connecticut county, it is more important than ever to curb its spread and the most effective way to do that is preventing the movement of wood products out of affected areas,” DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said. “We will continue to work closely with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Transportation, and other state and local agencies to put effective strategies in place to limit the spread of ash borer and minimize the impact this invasive beetle has on Connecticut’s ash trees.”
In addition to the established quarantine, regulations are in effect for the movement of firewood from out-of-state into Connecticut or within Connecticut, including the requirement of a permit to bring out-of-state firewood into Connecticut. These regulations were put in place to ensure that ash borer and other invasive insects are not carried into Connecticut, or spread throughout New England, through the movement of firewood.
The emerald ash borer is a regulated plant pest under federal (7 CFR 301.53) and state (CT Gen. Statute Sec. 22-84-5d, e, and f) regulations.