Researchers say they have discovered a destructive invasive beetle in South Carolina for the first time.
Clemson University announced Thursday the Emerald Ash Borer had been detected in Spartanburg, Oconee and Greenville counties. It was the first time the beetle has been confirmed in South Carolina as it devastated ash trees across the Southeast.
Clemson plant industry professor Steven Long said the beetle will, “kill every ash in South Carolina eventually. Everywhere it has been, it has killed all the ash.”
Long likens the effect of the Emerald Ash Borer to the Dutch Elm Disease that swept from state to state in 2016 and destroyed many varieties of elm.
He said the State Crop Pest Commission will likely quarantine the movement of ash wood in the three counties in an effort to slow the beetle’s spread. The quarantine could also be expanded to the entire state. Usually the beetle migrates from March to November, but biologists say people also assist its movement. Long said that cutting firewood in one area and bringing it somewhere else can spread the insect over large swaths of land.
The Clemson Department of Plant Industry is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to monitor for the borer through visual surveys of ash trees both in the nursery industry and in the wild. Agriculture officials have set traps in South Carolina for more than a decade to keep watch for the insect. There were 757 total traps throughout the state of South Carolina in 2017
So far, scientists have been unable to craft a good remedy to rid the environment of the invasive beetle which originated from Asia. It was first detected near Detroit in 2002 and has been spreading ever since. South Carolina is the 31st state with confirmed Emerald Ash Borers. Long said there is not a lot of ash in South Carolina, so the economic impact will not be extravagant. But he hopes people will keep a lookout for the beetle.
“It really looks like a space age organism,” Long said about the green beetle. “Like a rifle bullet looks like. It’s really about the same size and shape.”
The bug is easily recognizable from the “D” shaped holes it leaves in the ash trees it feeds on. Long asks that if people see the strange D-shaped hole in a tree near them to call their local Forestry Service.