May 20, 2010

EAB Awareness Week Asks Campers to Help Prevent Infestation

Gov. Jay Nixon this week announced that Missouri and 15 other states will observe Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week, May 23-29, 2010. Through a proclamation ceremony on Wednesday, May 19, state residents and visitors were urged to become more educated about emerald ash borer - an exotic invasive insect that has destroyed millions of ash trees in North America - and take action to help slow the spread of this invasive pest.

"Gov. Nixon's proclamation is an important step in educating Missourians and other travelers to be aware of the dangers of transporting firewood," says Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "Emerald ash borer is a national issue that can seriously threaten our ash trees and affect our forest lands, homeowners and communities."                               

The Missouri departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources are teaming up with USDA, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and University of Missouri Extension to stop the spread of EAB in Missouri and to limit the damage caused by the pest. Ash trees make up approximately three  percent of forests and 14 percent of urban trees in Missouri. In some neighborhoods and parks, the figure reaches as high as 30 or 40 percent. Since no ash trees in North America are known to be resistant to the pest, infestations are devastating to these tree species.

"Although education about emerald ash borer happens year round, EAB Awareness Week is a concerted effort to raise awareness about the insect and halt its artificial spread by the movement of firewood and other ash materials," said Joanie Straub, Missouri emerald ash borer outreach coordinator. "As the 'outdoor' season gets underway during the Memorial Day weekend, we want to remind Missourians that they can play a key role in limiting the spread of this destructive insect by not moving firewood."

Missouri's only known infestation of EAB was found in July 2008 in the campground at the Wappapello Lake Greenville Recreational Area in Wayne County, Mo. Since September 2008, there has been an ongoing "detection and delimit" campaign around the Greenville Campground to monitor the extent of the EAB population. So far, the spread of emerald ash borer beetles appears to be confined to about a mile-and-a-half from the campground.

"The discovery of this highly destructive pest at a campground is a strong indication that it probably arrived in firewood," said Conservation Department Forest Entomologist Rob Lawrence. "If people knew how devastating this insect can be, they would never consider moving firewood. They would adopt a 'burn it where you get it' practice."

A native of northeast Asia, EAB has killed approximately 50-100 million ash trees in 14 states and Canada. USDA estimates that if EAB is not contained or eradicated, it has the potential to cost state and local governments $7 billion over the next 25 years to remove and replace dead and dying ash trees that pose a safety hazard in urban and suburban areas.

For further information about the emerald ash borer, visit or contact the State Entomologist Collin Wamsley at (573) 751-5505, Joanie Straub at (573) 522-4115 x3595 or Rob Lawrence at (573) 882-9909 x3303.