Insect Invasion: Emerald Ash Borer Detected in Multiple Counties, Threatening Texas Trees

Invasive insects in the form of wood beetles are infesting and killing Texas trees in different parts of the state. This comes after an alarming discovery showing the detection of the invasive beetle species, called emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), in multiple counties. According to local authorities, the insect invasion has been reported in Grayson, Hood, Hill, McLennan, and Palo Pinto Counties.

The emerald ash borer, abbreviated as EAB and also called green buprestid or jewel beetle, is native to northeast Asia. They were first detected in North America back in 2002 but have spread since then across Canada and the United States, including in the states of Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia. Currently, reports show that the beetles are making their way further south through Texas.

Insect Invasion: Texas Trees

Insect Invasion: Emerald Ash Borer Detected in Multiple Counties, Threatening Texas Trees
(Photo : Photo by Tilson glanny Dsouza on Unsplash)

In a recent media release, the Texas A&M Forest Service confirmed Texas trees are under the threat of insect invasion by emerald ash borers, which were detected in five new Texas counties mentioned earlier.

According to the forest service, the invasive beetle species responsible for killing millions of ash trees have further moved south. It was in 2016 when the beetles were first detected in Texas.

The beetles are infesting and killing ash trees in new areas of Texas, the Texas government agency says. The presence of the insects in the new counties came after local officials found adult specimens earlier in May 2024. After collecting, the officials sent them to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Department of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which confirmed the species.

According to Allen Smith, the agency’s regional forest health coordinator, they have deployed almost 500 traps across central, eastern, and northern Texas against the invasive beetles since 2018. This is because ash trees, both healthy and unhealthy, are vulnerable to EAB attack and “have no natural resistance” against them, Smith explains. It is for this reason that proactive measures are essential.

Also Read: Climate Change-Triggered Invasive Insects and Diseases Threatens Dozens of US Tree Species with Extinction

Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer is believed to have arrived in North America in 2002 from China, particularly by potentially hitchhiking in wood shipping crates. However, research conducted by the Michigan State University in 2014 shows that the destructive beetles were already in the US long before they were first detected; suggesting they arrived at least 10 years earlier in North America.

Based on the 2014 study, Michigan State University researchers found that the invasive beetles were already feasting on ash trees in southeast Michigan during the early 1990s, according to the university’s forest entomology professor Deb McCullough.

Like other non-native species, invasive animals or plants in a certain ecosystem, where they originally do not belong, have drastic environmental and ecological impacts. In previous related cases, it has been observed that invasive species causes local extinction of native animals and plants, biodiversity reduction, and other impacts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Related Article: Fire Ant Outbreak: Invasive Insects Impacting Australia’s Economy, Pose New Threat of Food Bowl Contamination

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