FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - The emerald ash borer's march through northeastern Indiana is ending, but the invasive beetle is leaving behind a steep toll. And experts say new pests are waiting in the wings to take its place.
Many of the state's 150 million ash trees have died or are dying, prompting cities to spend millions of dollars to remove them. Fort Wayne alone has removed 13,000 ash trees, at a cost of more than $3 million.
Phil Marshall, forest health specialist and state entomologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, told The Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/1nf1bWn ) that the state continues to monitor the spread of the emerald ash borer, especially in southern counties. But officials also are keeping their eye on new culprits that could damage Indiana trees.
The walnut twig beetle, which targets black walnut trees, and the Asian long-horned beetle, which can kill maple trees and seven other species of hardwood trees, are just a few miles from the state line near Cincinnati and moving west, Marshall said.
And while the emerald ash borers are heading west, the state continues to set traps in southwestern Indiana, and a federal quarantine barring or limiting the transfer of ash wood remains in place.
Marshall said it can take up to two years for larvae in ash wood to die, which means the beetle larvae could emerge as adults as late as 2016.
The emerald ash borer came to the United States in 2002 and 2003 from Asia, China and parts of Russia on shipments loaded on ash pallets. The metallic-green beetle has been detected in 69 of Indiana's 92 counties.
Rick Wilson, a tree care manager at Signature Lawn and Tree Care Service in Fort Wayne, said he thinks the ash borer infestation has reached a threshold.
"They are still around, but it's a much easier population to deal with," Wilson said.
Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net