Ash borer a looming threat to Vermont's forests

MIDDLEBURY-Like the insectoid alien invaders depicted in the 1995 sci-fi movie "Starship Troopers," the dreaded ash borer is lurking on the northern and southern fringes of Vermont waiting to pounce. This destructive insect pest has been spotted north and south of us, so the State of Vermont isn't taking any chances in gearing up for the coming war.

Emerald ash borer or EAB: scientists call it Agrilus planipennis.

It's an exotic beetle that looks like a stubby grasshopper with a very nasty attitude.

Adult EABs chew on ash foliage with not much damage, but look out for EABs little ones, or larvae-they feed like demons on the inside bark of ash trees. There its 24/7 chewing cycle blocks water and nutrients to the trees. The ash trees-of which Vermont has millions in the wild-die of starvation.

EABS are illegal alien animals; they arrived in the USA from China inside wooden crates aboard cargo ships at ports of entry in the eastern U.S. and Canada.

The bugs were first found in Ohio in 2003, then Indiana in 2004, Illinois and Maryland in 2006, Pennsylvania and West Virginia in 2007, Wisconsin, Missouri and Virginia in summer 2008, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky in the spring of 2009, then on to Iowa in spring of 2010 and Tennessee in the summer of 2010, next-where? Is Vermont the next battle zone?

A former Middlebury tree warden, Peg Martin, reports that traps for the ash borer insect can be seen in AddisonCounty.

"This evil beast is headed our way and unfortunately it is only a matter of time," Martin said. "There is just about zero chance of avoiding the ash borer, but it may be possible to control it. For example, here in Middlebury you can see a trap on the east side of South Street extension, just beyond the East View construction site."

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