An emergency ban on the importation of firewood to all Arkansas Game and Fish Commission-owned wildlife management areas was approved Thursday.
The ban includes people camping on the state’s WMAs. The ban is to prevent the spread of an exotic insect known as the emerald ash borer. The insects feed on and are likely to kill all of Arkansas’s ash species.
The ban was approved by the commission, which met this week.
The insect has been discovered in five southwest Arkansas counties. The five counties are Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hot Spring and Nevada. It was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and has since killed tens of millions of trees.
Firewood easily transports harmful pests and other problems to trees, according to AGFC forester Martin Blaney. “Wood that looks clean may actually be concealing insects like the emerald ash borer,” Blaney says.
The adult emerald ash borer is a metallic green insect about one-half inch long and one-eighth inch wide making it hard to detect in the wild. The female beetles lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. The eggs hatch and the larvae bore into the bark to the fluid-conducting vessels underneath. The larvae feed and develop, cutting off the flow of nutrients and, eventually killing the tree. EAB attacks and kills North American species of true ash, and tree death occurs three to five years following initial infestation.
Signs of EAB include: canopy dieback beginning at the top of the tree and progressing through the year until the tree is bare; sprouts growing from the roots and trunk; split bark with an S-shape gallery; D-shaped exit holes; and more woodpecker activity, creating large holes as they extract the larvae.
State and USDA APHIS PPQ personnel will now survey trees in the areas surrounding the initial finds to determine the extent of the EAB infestation. To report signs of the beetle to the Arkansas State Plant Board, call 501-225-1598. For more information about Emerald Ash Borer, visit: www.emeraldashborer.info or http://www.arinvasives.org/.