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Beetle Invasion Leads to Massachusetts Quarantine

A potentially economically challenging situation has recently presented itself in the westernmost counties of Massachusetts. Set to impact nearby cities like Boston and the whole of the Northeast, officials have made the decision to enforce a wood-transporting ban on all Ash wood coming from the affected counties. The reason? The dreaded Emerald Ash Borer beetle has been detected in small quantities among the western counties of Mass. and a state-wide quarantine seems to be the only hope at keeping the bug from spreading.

Detected in over a dozen states in the US so far the Asian beetle species was first seen in Michigan in 2002. Once the Ash Borer makes contact with a grove of ash trees they’re as good as contaminated – a single colony of the beetle can eat through hundreds of trees in less than a month.

There are certain exceptions to the Berkshire County quarantine. Wood over 4-feet long, for example, is allowed to be transported since the beetles would be easily identifiable in such a large piece of wood. The Ash crop in Massachusetts makes up a large percentage of the state’s wood forests and the western counties produce about 85% of the state’s Ash product. Officials in the area hope the quarantine will not only contain the beetles within the state but keep them from further spreading to Connecticut (where they’ve previously been detected) and Vermont where the beetle has yet to be seen.

Once the Emerald Ash Borer, so named for its shiny green coloration, has been identified it’s difficult to get rid of. The insect feeds only on Ash wood and its larva is surprisingly resilient. Rather than treating it with pesticides pest control companies prefer to strip Ash trees of their bark from the ground up so the bugs have little to eat.

Beetle infestations have long been the bane of the textile and building industries as they’re difficult to monitor and control. From a carpet beetle that eats, you guessed it: carpet, to a Kentucky species that feasts on any kind of wood it can, beetles have caused billions of dollars in damage all over the US. Similar in nature and number to termites, beetles are larger and thankfully easier to spot with the naked eye.

If you’ve spotted an invasive beetle species in your area contact your state’s Department of Conservation as well as a local pest control provider.

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