The Ohio Department of Agriculture yesterday announced a new emerald ash borer infestation in north-central Ohio as well as an expansion of its quarantine against the movement of firewood and ash materials near Indiana.
The new infestation is in Auglaize County. Ash trees at rest areas along I-75 north of Wapakoneta, were found to have the destructive beetle.
Surveyors soon will try to delineate the outer reaches of that particular infestation, officials said.
They believe the infestation was another consequence of illegal firewood movement or the unauthorized transfer of contaminated ash trees or ash materials from a quarantined area, officials said.
State Agriculture Director Fred Dailey called it another discovery of statewide concern and encouraged residents to keep their eyes open for other infestations.
Officials have said northwest Ohio and the Toledo area in particular are major battlefronts in a multi-state effort to keep the borers from spreading across North America.
In a related matter, officials said they have enacted a ban on the movement of firewood and ash materials from Indiana's Steuben and LaGrange counties into Ohio because of confirmed infestations in those two Indiana counties.
Violators face Ohio fines of up to $4,000 as well as the possibility of sanctions on the federal level. Similar quarantines exist in Ohio for portions of Lucas, Wood, Hancock, and Defiance counties.
Emerald ash borers are non-native beetles that feed exclusively on ash trees, one of North America's most coveted shade trees. Once they infest a tree, their larvae sucks out its nutrients and starves it to death over three years.
There is no known treatment to kill off the pests, although researchers have said they are working on products to help ward off infestations.
Ash trees are popular for landscaping because of their adaptability to many soil types and sun conditions. The hardwood in them is used for wood flooring and is the basis for thousands of jobs related to the manufacture of items ranging from tool handles to furniture to baseball bats.
The pest, believed to have been accidentally imported to southeast Michigan via a wooden crate from China several years ago, was first identified on this continent in 2002. The first Ohio discovery was made in the Whitehouse area of western Lucas County a year later. Since then, the beetle has spread across Michigan's lower peninsula and turned up in the Canadian province of Ontario as well as Indiana, Maryland, and Virginia.
The Toledo area is the only place in which it is believed to have crossed state lines naturally. The other finds have been attributed to firewood movement and sales of contaminated nursery stock or other materials.
In addition to Auglaize and Lucas counties, the pest has turned up in other parts of Ohio, including Ottawa, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Wood, Delaware, and Franklin counties.
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