- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota officials are trying to raise awareness of the emerald ash borer and prevent its spread into the state, which has about 78 million ash trees.

The beetles have killed millions of ash trees in 21 states including Minnesota, and are now widespread in Minneapolis-St. Paul, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said.

“Given the traffic along I-94 between North Dakota and the Twin Cities, it will be more difficult than ever to keep this pest out of our state,” Goehring said.

The emerald ash borer is native to Asia. It was first detected in the U.S. in 2002 near Detroit. The larvae feed under the bark of ash trees, disrupting the movement of water and nutrients and killing the tree within several years.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple has proclaimed next week as Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week. Foresters in 30 cities and state parks will be tying ribbons along with informational fliers to publicly owned ash trees.

Local, state and federal officials also will be placing about 350 emerald ash borer traps around the state. They will be monitored through August as part of a survey involving 48 other states.

The three-sided purple traps are about 2 feet long.

“If you come across one of these traps, please leave it alone,” Goehring said.

State Forester Larry Kotchman also is urging residents to take an active role in preventing the emerald ash borer from entering North Dakota.

“Please buy your firewood from local sources, and if you are coming from out of the state, please don’t bring firewood with you,” he said. “EAB spreads slowly on its own, but it can be moved long distances in firewood and ash nursery stock.”

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