LACONIA — Belknap County has recently been added to the fire wood quarantine list for the emerald ash borer after one was found in a trap in Gilmanton in late June and was confirmed as such by the federal government on July 7.
Piera Siegert of the Division of Plant Industry of the N.H. Dept. of Agriculture, Markets and Food said a second ash borer was found in the same trap about a week later.
With the addition of Belknap County, there are now four counties that are included in the firewood quarantine, with Hillsborough, Merrimack and Rockingham Counties already on the list.
"Our goal," said Siegert, "is to facilitate the movement of the ash trade without facilitating the trade of the ash borer."
The emerald ash borer was originally found in Michigan in 2002 and is now in 25 states including Connecticut and Massachusetts said Siegert. Firewood can be moved throughout areas that are in the quarantine but not out of the area.
"(It) is the poster child for insects moving around," she said adding not because the insects themselves move around but because ash trees make good firewood and firewood moves around.
University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Forester Andy Fast said ash borers can fly about two miles with the wind but will typically stay in a host tree once they've found it.
He said firewood is likely the way the emerald ash borer got to New Hampshire and restricting the movement of firewood from Belknap and other quarantined counties is one way to contain it. Firewood from non-quarantined counties can come into Belknap County but not the other way around.
Fast said kiln dried firewood from companies with the proper certifications is exempt from the quarantine, but also noted that firewood producers are often owner-operators and small producers.
He also said that relatively speaking, New Hampshire doesn't have a lot of ash because our soil is acidic and dry and ash trees prefer moist and basic soil. Fast said the amount of ash increases nearer the Connecticut River Valley and Vermont because of soil type.
Siegert said many communities have planted ash trees along the sides of the road after Dutch elm disease eradicated all of the elm. She said those communities should routinely monitor their ash trees as should people who have them in their yards.
As to detection, Siegert said it's difficult and one should look at the tree and not for the bright green bug. "There's hundreds of bright green bugs in the world," she said.
She said the first notable sign of emerald ash borer infestation is a thinning of the crown or the leaves at the top of the tree. She added that an ash tree with green sucker shoots standing straight up from the base of the tree are another classic sign.
Adult emerald ash borers drill a microscopic hole in the tree and lay their eggs. As the eggs hatch and the larve emerges in the late spring, the larve eat the cambium layer or the layer just under the bark and Siegert said that's what kills the tree. As the larve grow into adults, they bore their way out of the tree leaving a "D" shaped pattern in the bark.
She said infested trees attract woodpeckers who peck the bark off the tree to get to the larve. As the woodpeckers strip the bark, there is "blonding" or parts of the tree that are lighter than the rest of it.
"This is a really good sign there are ash borers," she said, noting it takes three to five years to kill a tree but as its strength becomes more and more compromised, the tree gradually gets more unstable and can fall in a storm.
For people who have ash trees, she said they should determine if the tree adds to their property value. If it adds value, use insecticide on the infected portion and the chemical should be based on the size of the tree.
For those with ash in wooded areas, she suggests a thinning, meaning a selective harvest that takes the biggest trees in defined areas.
"If you chose to do nothing (the tree) will come down on the beetle's schedule not yours," she said.
There is a public information meeting on the emerald ash borer at the Belknap County Complex conference room on July 21 from 4 to 6 p.m.
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