Small Beetle Causing Huge Problems for Va. Trees

July 16, 2012

A beetle, called the Emerald Ash Borer, is no bigger than the size of your nail but it’s causing life-size problems for thousands of trees in central Virginia.

The tiny beetles came from Asia first popping up in North America in 2002 in Michigan. Over the past decade they have spread to 15 states including Virginia.

Now the 187 million ash trees in the state are in danger of being killed off. Officials say the Emerald Ash Borers haven’t been seen in Charlottesville or Albemarle County, but it’s only a matter of time.

"Sooner or later if it’s not here, it’s going to get here. So if people want to protect their trees, they should start thinking about chemical control and hiring an arborist now. If you wait until you find it, it’s often too late,” said Chris Asaro, Forest Health Specialist.

Officials say it can cost thousands of dollars to remove one large dead ash tree.

In addition to the ecological damage caused by the beetle, there’s an economic impact because the ash tree is used to make the majority of baseball bats along with flooring and cabinets.

"It can cause a considerable economic and ecological impact to lose ash trees as a resource. The threat is real that we will lose most of our ash trees in the next several decades," said Asaro.

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