Emerald Ash Borers have now been detected in trees in Acton and Berwick. FILE PHOTO

YORK COUNTY  — In late February, Maine Forest Service, with support of landowners and assistance from Central Maine Power and Lucas Tree Experts, collected branches from ash trees along roadsides in Acton, Lebanon and Berwick. Forest Service staff peeled the bark off these branches to look for signs of emerald ash borer.

Live emerald ash borer larvae were found on two of the trees sampled, one each from the towns of Acton and Berwick. Although these trees still appear completely healthy, they are infested with the invasive pest.

These were the first emerald ash borer found within trees in York County (the previous finds in Acton and Lebanon were adults that had flown into traps).

Given this and the previous trapping survey, the Maine Forest Service knows that the emerald ash borer is established, at least sporadically, within three miles of the New Hampshire border for at least 17 miles between Acton and Berwick.  However, it is almost certain that they have spread further than this area.

To get a clearer picture of where the pest is established in York County, the Maine Forest Service plans to work with landowners to girdle ash trees this spring, concentrating in towns near the New Hampshire border.

These girdled trees will act as traps, drawing in emerald ash borers from the immediate area (more information on this survey). The trees will be felled and peeled in the autumn to look for signs of the pest.

With this information on establishment and population density, the Maine Forest Service will be able to move forward with managing the emerald ash borer.

The ash borer is a destructive and invasive pest that was first detected in Michigan in 2002 prompting a federal quarantine in 2003 to restrict movement of potentially infested material. Native to Asia, it’s thought to have arrived in the United States in solid wood packing material.

Through the end of last year, it has been found in 35 states, and four Canadian provinces and has cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars as ash trees infested with ash borers typically die within two to three years.

In 2018, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry used a quarantine to contain the emerald ash borer and prevent the pest’s movement in firewood, ash logs, ash wood products and other products from northern Aroostook and York counties.

The state says the quarantine is needed to protect forests in the state, as well as landscape tree resources.

In imposing the quarantine for northern Aroostook and York counties, officials said that although the beetles were found on traps and infested trees near the western border of York County and an order restricting the movement of some ash products and firewood issued Sept. 12 only affected four towns, Acton, Berwick, Lebanon and Shapleigh, because of the size of York County, it is probable that eventually all of York County will be included in future state and federal quarantines.

If you have ash on your property and are interested in participating in this survey, contact [email protected] for more information.

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