Ash Borer Beetle Returns To North America: Invasive, Tree-Eating Bug Wreaks Havoc In Canada And Northeast US [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on July 17, 2013 3:00 PM EDT

ash borer beetle 1
The ash borer beetle, native to Asia, has a bullet-shaped body that is a dark metallic green hue. It measures just a third of an inch long and lives for only a few weeks once it reaches adulthood. (Photo: Flickr/US Department of Agricu)
ash borer beetle 2
Ash borer beetles bore holes in tree trunks where they lay their larvae eggs, essentially disrupting the flow of nutrients. Eventually, the tree dies. (Photo: Flickr/USFS Region 5)

The ash borer beetle, a.k.a. the emerald ash borer, has returned to North America. The invasive, tree-eating beetle bores holes in the trunks of ash trees, where it lays its eggs. When the ash borer beetle larvae hatch, they suck the tree dry until it shrivels up and dies, wreaking havoc on forests from Canada to Indiana. The only way to defeat the bug is to chop the trees down and burn the wood.

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The Christian Science Monitor reports that in Iowa, officials plan to quarantine Des Moines County, where the ash borer beetle was recently spotted.

"It's certainly possible that there are other emerald ash borers in the state of Iowa," Donald Lewis, an extension entomologist for Iowa State University, told AP. "People are looking, and so my gut reaction without having anything to back it up is that if there were more, we would know about them."

First detected in North America in 2002, the ash borer beetle is actually native to Asia. Found mostly in Eastern Russia, Northern China, Japan and Korea, the emerald ash borer first popped up in southeastern Michigan in 2002 and probably arrived here buried in wood packing materials on an Asian shipping container.

The ash borer beetle has a body shaped like a bullet and a dark, metallic green hue. Its body measures just one-third of an inch long. The insect has a flat head with black eyes. Females lay their eggs in the trunks of trees in between the layers of bark or in the crevices. When they hatch, the newly hatched larvae feed on the juices of the tree, sucking the tree dry of its nutrients. Eventually, the tree dies.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the emerald ash borer beetle is responsible for tens of millions of ash trees in 19 Midwest and Northeast states. In Ontario alone, researchers estimate that the bug had killed 9,000 to 10, 000 ash trees by 2005, one study from the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization estimates. 

"The spread of emerald ash borer beetles poses significant economic and environmental threats to both urban and forest regions in North America, and officials are moving into position to do all they can to contain any further outbreak from the latest find," Christian Post reports

National Resources Canada posted this video to YouTube about the ash borer beetle: 

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