Photo ID: Cam Kanterman and Mark Mayer from NJ Department of Agriculture’s Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory releasing the parasitoids in Franklin Township, Somerset County, to fight EAB

New Jersey Department of Agriculture officials reported the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees, is active in 14 towns in six counties.

A trapping program in 82 towns over the summer and reporting from homeowners has resulted in the discovery to date of the beetle in Hillsdale, Bergen County; Edgewater Park and Westampton, Burlington County;  Ewing, Hamilton Township, Hopewell, Princeton, West Windsor., Mercer County; Monroe and South Brunswick, Middlesex County; Bridgewater, Franklin Township and Hillsborough, Somerset County; and Allentown, Monmouth County.

“Just as emerald ash borer has swiftly spread through other states in the nation, it has now moved to New Jersey and we must prepare for the impact of this highly destructive invasive pest, which could lead to the death of ash trees,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.  “We ask that towns and counties act now to put plans in place to respond to the beetle.”

In an effort to protect the state’s ash trees, the Department of Agriculture initiated the field release this fall of biocontrol parasitoids for emerald ash borer in four locations in Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Franklin and Ewing Townships.  Releases of almost 9,000 larval and 1,600 egg EAB parasitoids were made in wooded ash sites containing low levels of EAB in September in an effort to help suppress building EAB populations.  The beneficial insects were supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s EAB Biocontrol Laboratory in Brighton, Michigan.

Emerald ash borer was first discovered in New Jersey in May 2014 by a private citizen in Bridgewater.  EAB is now present in 25 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.  It was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and has since killed tens of millions of trees.

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.  EAB is native to Asia.