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July 11. 2014 5:57PM

Invasive beetle found near NH, Mass. border

SALEM — The emerald ash borer, an Asian beetle that can wreak havoc on ash trees, is moving closer to the ash tree populations of southern New Hampshire.

Although the beetle has yet to infect any trees in Salem, the species was recently found in Methuen, Mass.

“This means that 13 towns in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties are now in the orange zone,” said Salem Conservation Commission Chairman William Dumont.

The orange zone means the emerald ash borer is not known to be in the area, but there is a known infestation within 10 miles of the area.

“There is a high probability the emerald ash borer will spread naturally to the zone within a few years,” Dumont said.

State officials are recommending that people with ash trees on their property begin a treatment program now, Dumont said.

“Of course, it isn't practical to treat ash trees in a forest, so wood lot owners are encouraged to look for ash trees and decide upon a treatment plan,” said Dumont.

The towns in the orange zone along with Salem include Hudson, Pelham, Londonderry, Windham, Derry, Hampstead, Atkinson, Plaistow, Sandown, Kingston and Newton.

The emerald ash borer first made made its way to North America from Asia in the 1990s and has now been identified in 22 states and two Canadian provinces, according to Molly Heuss of the state’s division of forestry and lands.

“It eats all the ash trees that grow in the United States, but does not attack any other species,” she said. “There is no known way to eradicate the beetle or its population in the United States. Our goal is to slow the spread of ash mortality as it spreads throughout the landscape.”

By slowing the spread of the beetles and the ash infestation, Heuss said researchers will hopefully have more time to come up with better control methods.

There are several methods used to slow the spread of the ash borer once infected trees are found. One method involves attracting the beetles to a small, concentrated stand of ash trees, and then destroying those trees and the beetle larvae in the trees.

The second method involves releasing tiny non-stinging parasitic wasps to attack the ash borers and help control the population.

Although the ash borer can fly, Heuss said it is mainly spread through the delivery of infected trees from nurseries or through ash firewood.


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