Last month, the Missouri Department of Agriculture placed a quarantine on all 114 counties and the City of St. Louis—all because of a tiny, bullet-shaped, metallic-green beetle about a half inch long.
The Emerald Ash Borer. Once it's infested a tree, the tree is doomed.The quarantine hopes to stop the spread of the insect by regulating the movement of Ash nursery stock, any part of an ash tree, such as logs, green lumber, waste, compost and chips, and firewood cut from any species of hardwood, not just ash trees.
The University of Missouri Extension Office has devoted part of its website to the Emerald Ash Borer Program, which it calls one of the "most serious environmental threats now facing North American forests." An infestation of EAB is 100 percent fatal to the tree, and ash trees are not only used commonly for landscaping, the wood is used for baseball bats, hockey sticks and guitars.
It's believed that the EAB first came to the states in ash pallets shipped to Michigan 15-20 years ago. The first Missouri infestation was found in a Wayne County, MO campground, and adult insects have been identified in Platte County and Reynolds County.
The adult insects can't fly long distances, so officials believe that they may be travelling in firewood in the larval stage. The Extension Office advises not to transport firewood from where it was cut, and to avoid planting new ash trees so as to deprive the beetles of their food source.