Update: Tree-killing beetle now found in Fairfield County and three other CT counties

UPDATE: The emerald ash borer now has been detected in two more towns in two additional counties — Watertown (LItchfield County) and Southington (Hartford County)

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station made the findings on July 29 in Southington and Aug. 1 in Watertown.

A tree-killing invasive beetle turned up in another Connecticut town — and, for the first time, it’s in Fairfield County. This means a quarantine on certain ash-wood products likely will be expanded to cover Fairfield County, which includes Shelton, and some other parts of Connecticut.

The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) was found in the northern Fairfield County town of Sherman, just above Danbury. Previously, the beetle had been identified in 11 other Connecticut towns.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) announced the emerald ash borer in Sherman was detected on July 19, and the finding was confirmed by federal regulatory officials in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

This latest detection, like that of the initial New Haven County detection in 2012, was made through the CAES’ Cerceris wasp biosurveillance program.

New Haven County quarantine

In Connecticut, a quarantine was previously established that regulates the movement of ash logs, ash materials, ash nursery stock, and hardwood firewood from within New Haven County to any area outside of that county.

The New Haven County quarantine mirrors a federal quarantine also imposed on New Haven County.

New Haven County is directly across the Housatonic River from Shelton, and includes Derby, Milford, Orange and Seymour.

This Fairfield County detection will result in the expansion of the state and federal quarantines in Connecticut.

Killing many ash trees

The emerald ash borer is responsible for the death and decline of tens of millions of ash trees and has been detected in 20 states from Kansas and Michigan to New Hampshire and south to North Carolina. Ash makes up about 4% to 15% of Connecticut’s forests and is a common urban tree.

In Connecticut, the insects were previously confirmed in Bethany, Beacon Falls, Cheshire, Hamden, Middlebury, Naugatuck, North Branford, Oxford, Prospect, Southbury and Waterbury, all in New Haven County.

The ash borer also has been identified in Dutchess County, N.Y.; Berkshire County, Mass., and Merrimack County, N.H.

Found in a wasp

A single specimen of ash borer was recovered in Sherman from the ground-nesting, native wasp (Cerceris fumipennis), which hunts beetles in the family Buprestidae, including the emerald ash borer. The wasp is an efficient and effective “biosurveillance” survey tool and does not sting people or pets, according to state environmental officials.

Non-stinging Chinese wasps (Tetrastichus planipennisi) were introduced earlier this year to hunt the beetles.

In addition, 307 purple prism detection traps have been set across the state, excluding New Haven County, by the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System.

More trees at risk

“This latest detection and those in an expanding area of New Haven County show how invasive this insect can be — putting more of our ash trees at risk.” said state Entomologist Kirby C. Stafford III. “Not moving firewood or ash is the best way to help slow the spread of ash borer.”

Daniel C. Esty, state energy and environmental commissioner, echoed that point. “Now that ash borer has been detected in another Connecticut county, it is more important than ever to curb its spread and the most effective way to do that is preventing the movement of wood products out of affected areas,” Esty said.

Other requirements in the state

In addition to the established quarantine, regulations are in effect for the movement of firewood from out-of-state into Connecticut or within Connecticut, including the requirement of a permit to bring out-of-state firewood into Connecticut. These regulations were put in place to ensure that ash borer and other invasive insects are not carried into Connecticut, or spread throughout New England, through the movement of firewood.

Detailed information about the quarantine, including its expansion, and the firewood regulations can be found at www.ct.gov/deep/eab or www.ct.gov/caes.

The emerald ash borer is a regulated plant pest under federal and state regulations.

For more information, go to emeraldashborer.info. A fact sheet providing guidelines on the treatment of ash trees to protect them from ash borer also is available at ct.gov/caes.