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Emerald ash borer threat heightens in Pennsylvania

With the discovery of Emerald ash borer beetles in Centre, Fulton and Somerset counties, the invasive tree-killing pest has now been found in 15 Pennsylvania counties, according to Russell C. Redding, the state's agriculture secretary.

An infest ash tree with 60 percent dieback.

Emerald ash borer poses a serious threat to Pennsylvania's nation-leading hardwoods industry, which contributes nearly $25 billion to the economy, Redding said in a news release.

In Centre County, the beetle was found in Potters Mills at the intersection of Route 144 and Route 322. The Fulton County infestation is in Valley-Hi Borough along Route 30, and the Somerset County location is in Quemahoning Township on Route 30. A suspect sample found in Gregg Township, Union County, is being tested for confirmation.

State and federal emerald ash borer quarantines restrict moving ash nursery stock, green lumber and any other ash material, including logs, stumps, roots and branches, from the quarantine area. However, because of the difficulty in distinguishing between species of hardwood firewood, all hardwood firewood and wood chips - including ash, oak, maple and hickory - are considered quarantined.

The department has not yet expanded the existing quarantine, but will draw new quarantine lines based on the survey results through the end of July.

The invasive emerald ash borer beetle was first detected in Pennsylvania in summer 2007 in Butler County and subsequently was found in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Indiana, Juniata, Lawrence, Mercer, Mifflin, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

The wood-boring beetle is native to China and eastern Asia. The pest likely arrived in North America in wooden shipping crates. It was first detected in July 2002 in southeastern Michigan and neighboring Windsor, Ontario. In addition to Pennsylvania, the beetle is attacking ash trees in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

People who suspect they have found emerald ash borer beetles should call the department's toll-free pest hotline at 1-866-253-7189.

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