The invasive, tree-killing emerald ash borer has been detected in one more county in North Carolina. The insect was confirmed in Mecklenburg County this week.
The insect bores into ash trees and disrupts their nutrient system, ultimately killing the tree.
The pest's been spreading slowly in North Carolina since 2013, according to Robert Trickel of the state forest service.
“Emerald ash borer has been detected in 25 percent of the counties in the state,” Trickel said. “We have no belief that that's the only place it's located. I wouldn't be surprised if at least a third of the counties weren't infested, but it's just that difficult to find.”
The forest service urges property owners to alert a forestry ranger if they suspect their unhealthy ash tree may be affected. Infested trees die within about 5 years. But trees can be treated on a small scale with pesticides.
Trickel said the pest is spreading along highway corridors because humans are transporting it in firewood. This means humans can help prevent it from infesting new areas, he said.
“If you're going camping away from home, it's best to buy firewood where you're going to be camping or take with you heat-treated firewood -- firewood that has a better chance of not spreading the pest to natural areas,” he said.
The emerald ash borer has been detected in multiple areas around the Triangle and Triad. A homeowner would probably first see is an ash tree in poor health, Trickel said.
“You know, if they call their county ranger, an arborist, somebody who's had experience with that, they could come out and explore it a little bit closer and see if there's actually emerald ash borer in the tree,” he said.
Trees nearby infested areas can be treated with pesticides. The forest service tracks affected areas on its website.
Emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees across the United States has expanded its incursion into North Carolina.
The North Carolina Forest Service has updated its map of confirmed locations to include Mecklenburg county, which joins Gaston, Lincoln, Catawba and Iredell counties as infestation sites.