ENVIRONMENT

Utah on high alert after Emerald Ash Borer discovered in Colorado

Jul 14, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: 6:42 pm

Emerald Ash Borer (Utah State University Extension)

(Utah State University Extension)

SALT LAKE CITY — The town of Littleton, Colorado is one of the latest places to detect Emerald Ash Borer and officials in Utah are taking steps to prevent the insect from invading Utah.

This beetle has decimated millions of ash trees in the United States and eastern Canada.

The invasive pest was first detected in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002, but based on how many Emerald Ash Borer they found at that time, the USDA believes they’ve been in the United States for much longer.

To date, the insect has been detected in 35 states. Utah is not one of them. According to the town of Littleton, Emerald Ash Borer were first detected in Colorado in 2013. Other than Colorado, the closest state to Utah that has detected Emerald Ash Borer is Oregon.

The beetle burrows in ash trees, while the larvae travel through and feed off the bark, leaving the tree to rot.

Utah officials have never detected the invasive species in the state. But they say they are concerned. 

“We should be worried … we have great concern of Emerald Ash Borer entering the state,” said Utah State Entomologist Kristopher Watson. 

Watson said the beetle is concerning for many reasons. It kills trees and it can cost a lot of money to remove dead trees. Nevertheless, they need to be removed because the weakened trees pose a liability to people and property.

The wheels are already in motion to address Emerald Ash Borer in Utah

Watson said they have taken quite a few steps to prevent that from happening, including trapping them. And the state has banned anyone from bringing in goods that could be housing the beetle or it’s eggs.

In 2017, officials stopped allowing people to bring firewood from other states into Utah. 

In 2021, Utah enacted a similar ban on any and all ash stock from states infested with Emerald Ash Borer.

“To my understanding … we have probably the most aggressive … efforts in the monitoring and detection … for Emerald Ash Borer in the entire nation,” Watson said.

Anybody who has seen an insect that looks like the Emerald Ash Borer or other invasive insect is asked to contact the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

If it’s feasible, take a picture or capture the bug.

“If we find it … when we find it … we want to be able to take action,” Watson said.

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Utah on high alert after Emerald Ash Borer discovered in Colorado