As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Texas has been conducting a survey for the past several years to look for the first signs of the highly destructive emerald ash borer. Although we have beetle samples from this summer currently being evaluated by USDA/APHIS, we have so far seen no sign of the beetle in Texas. The folks in Kansas, however, have not been so fortunate.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture, working with the USDA, has just reported the first known case of EAB in the Kansas City, KS area (Wyandotte County). The county has been quarantined for certain wood and firewood shipment, but there is as yet no report that the borer has spread from the initial detection site.
What does this mean for Texas? Probably not too much at this time. We in Texas remain under threat for invasion of this beetle from transported wood and firewood, especially. Prior to the Kansas report, the closest known beetle sighting was in southern Missouri, and further infestations there have not since been detected. Accidental human transport is more important in spreading this beetle than is natural spread on the ground. So having the beetle in Kansas is not a big escalation in the threat to Texas ash trees.
Ash trees are the principal host of this beetle. Though ash is not as common in Texas as it is east of the Mississippi, where the heart of the infestation currently exists, it is still a valuable tree. Surveys such as those conducted this summer in Texas may help us stave off the infestation for several years. For more information about EAB and other invasive pests, see the Texas Invasives website.