Ash borers move into new neighborhood

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Gazette Staff
Friday, July 5, 2013

WHITEWATER--Officials from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced in a news release Friday that the emerald ash borer has been found in Whitewater.

The news isn't terribly surprising, as the ash borer already has been found in other cities in Rock and Walworth counties.

However, the discovery does mean that all of Jefferson County now will be placed under quarantine, a news release from the state said.  Walworth and Rock counties already are under quarantine.

For residents, the quarantine means they cannot take firewood to non-quarantined counties.

For businesses handling wood products that could carry the emerald ash borer, it means working with state agriculture officials to make sure their products are pest-free before shipping, the news release said.

The quarantines are designed to slow the spread of the destructive pest that already has killed millions of trees.

The emerald ash borer is native to China and entered the United States about 10 years ago on packing material, showing up first in Michigan.

The bugs lay eggs on the bark of ash trees in mid- to late summer. When the eggs hatch a few weeks later, the larvae burrow under the bark for the winter and eat the wood, destroying the tree's ability to take up nutrients and water. In summer, the adults emerge through D-shaped holes in the bark. On their own, they can spread about a half-mile per year.

The bugs first appeared in Wisconsin in 2008 in Washington County. Along with Walworth County, there are now 16 Wisconsin counties under quarantine. They include Brown, Crawford, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Kenosha, LaCrosse, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Sheboygan, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties.

According to the news release:

In late June, the insects were found in a tree removed from the grounds of UW-Whitewater and identified by Department of Natural Resources staff.

The city of Whitewater and the campus straddle the Walworth-Jefferson county line, and the tree was about 750 yards inside the Walworth County line.

On July 1, a tree on the Jefferson County side of campus was found displaying the classic tunneling that signifies the emerald ash borer's presence.

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