RALEIGH– August 13, 2020: Signs of the emerald ash borer were found in Cleveland County for the first time this summer, bringing the number of counties where the tree-killing insect has been detected to 59 counties within the state. Signs and symptoms consistent with EAB were found between Kings Mountain and Shelby.
EAB is a metallic green beetle that bores into ash trees and feeds on tissues beneath the bark, ultimately killing the tree. "Finding evidence of EAB isn’t easy because most of the damage occurs under the bark and high up in the tree's crown," said Rob Trickel, forest health branch head. Adult borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark and feed on the transportation tissues of the tree. This disrupts the movement of nutrients and water within the tree, causing the tree’s slow death typically in three to five years.
The signs and symptoms of EAB infestation include thinning and dying crowns; increased woodpecker activity that causes the tree to look like it is losing patches of bark; small, 1/8-inch D-shaped exit holes where adult beetles emerged from the trees; galleries on the inside of the bark; cream-colored larvae; and, epicormic sprouting or sprouting from the main stem of the tree. Host plants include all native ash trees and native white fringetree. The Chinese white fringetree, often planted for ornamental purposes, is believed to be resistant.
EAB has been found in the following North Carolina counties: Alamance, Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Durham, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Graham, Granville, Guilford, Halifax, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Johnston, Lenoir, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Nash, Orange, Person, Polk, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Warren, Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes, Wilson, Yadkin and Yancey.
The entire state of North Carolina is under a quarantine for EAB. This prohibits the movement of ash plant parts, the insect itself, ash nursery stock and all hardwood firewood into nonquarantined areas such as central Tennessee, most of Alabama and all of Florida.
Adult EAB beetles are about a half-inch long and 1/8-inch wide. Under their wing covers, their bodies are a metallic purple-red color. In North Carolina, the adult EAB is typically active from late spring to early summer, likely April through June. EAB larvae may be found under the bark of the tree most of the year.
For more information about EAB, visit our website and follow the links under the "Forest Health" section. To view current federal EAB quarantines, visit this link.
The spread of invasive insects in the state is often due to human activity through the transportation of infested wood products such as firewood. It is strongly recommended that people burn local or treated firewood to reduce the spread of invasive pests.
The North Carolina Forest Health Branch monitors the spread of invasive pests. People who suspect there is an infested tree in an area near them should contact their county ranger. The contact information can be found online at ncforestservice.gov, under the links in the “contacts” heading.
More info on EAB