By CARLA MEYER
An outdoor pest, much like the emerald ash borer, that has been known to kill trees has reached Ohio in search of hardwood trees — and one local expert says it is only a matter of time before it is found in Auglaize County.
Asian long-horned beetles, which originated in Eastern China, have been identified in southern Ohio, in Clermont County east of Cincinnati. The insect feasts on hardwood trees which can potentially kill the tree.
The owner of a vineyard in Clermont County noticed damaged to a tree on his property, and federal and state inspectors said Asian long-horned beetles were to blame.
“Their best guess is this bug came in on a piece of crating material into a farm machinery manufacturing plant that’s about a half-mile away from our farm,” Bill Skvarla, who owns the Harmony Hill Vineyards and Estate Winery, said in a story published by The Associated Press. “They figure these things probably came in from packing material from Asia.”
Auglaize County OSU Extention Office Agricultural Agent John Smith said the beetles have been moving around the country.
“I’m sure we will be seeing them in the next couple years,” Smith said, of the beetle coming into Auglaize County.
Wapakoneta Safety-Service Director Bill Rains said the city received information from the Ohio Department of Agriculture that a maple
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tree in Ohio was damaged by the Asian long-horned beetle.
The city purchased a system that injects pesticides into ash trees to help in combatting the emerald ash borer, which was identified in the Wapakoneta area in August 2003. The first reports in the city came in 2005 and prompted purchasing the injection system.
“We are staying in contact with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and are awaiting further guidance from our urban forester Stephanie Miller who is a member of the Division of Forestry,” Rains said. “We haven’t been given any guidance at this time regarding our injection system and its ability to battle the Asian long-horned beetle.
“This problem is on our radar,” he said.
Mayor Rodney Metz said he also intends to discuss the issue with the provider of the pesticide for the emerald ash borer.
“I plan to call the producer of the pesticide and they either do have a pesticide or they will shortly to combat this infestation,” Metz said. “This will certainly be a topic of discussion during this month’s Wapakoneta City Tree Commission meeting.
“For now we are going to work it from both sides,” he said. “We will take the advice of our urban forester and we will evaluate information we receive from the maker of the chemical treatment for the ash trees.”
Smith said Auglaize County has had many emerald ash borer problems with, which also originated in Asia, including reports in New Knoxville, St. Marys and Wapakoneta.
“I’m not sure if the same pesticides from emerald ash borer will work on the Asian long-horned beetle,” Smith said.
It may be possible that the infected trees will have to be cut down and destroyed to help prevent billions of dollars in timber damage because insecticides haven’t been effective in preventing the bug from spreading.
The Asian long-horned beetle attacks trees and does not harm people, Smith said. The Asian long-horned beetle is attracted to all species of maple, birches, elms, willows, horsechestnuts and buckeye trees.
The insects are dark blue to bluish black in color and are covered with irregularly shaped white spots. The adults measure up to 1-1 1/2 inches in length. They also have long antennae, which have alternating black and white bands.
Smith said that the Asian long-horned beetle does not harm people, only trees. But when they harm trees in a homeowner’s backyard, it does affect the people.
The beetle was first found in the United States 15 years ago and have been identified in five states, including Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, where they have been contained, and now were found in southwest Ohio, where officials are hoping the insect can be contained and eradicated, according to an AP report.
The beetles burrows into the trunks and large branches of hardwood trees, which interrupts or cuts off the flow of water and nutrients which end up killing the trees.
In June, Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order restricting the movement of hardwood logs, firewood stumps and branches out of Tate Township, located in Clermont County. The executive order was issued to keep the beetle from spreading to other parts of the state.
This is the first Asian long-horned infestation found in Ohio.
“We’re much more optimistic about the opportunity to contain this rather than the emerald ash borer,” Ohio Department of Agriculture spokesperson Andy Ware told the AP. “They are less apt to fly than the emerald ash borer, so they don’t move as far. They are also more noticeable. They’re bigger.”
Ware also said that the best way to keep the beetle from spreading is to avoid moving firewood cut from hardwood trees.