Tree killing beetle spreading to Middlesex County - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Tree killing beetle spreading to Middlesex County

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DURHAM, CT (WFSB) -

A destructive insect that has been reportedly killing trees in Connecticut is now spreading.

The emerald ash borer is popping up in Middlesex County for the first time, and it may not be long before the bug goes statewide.

The bug is metallic green in color and just half-of-an-inch long, but the Emerald Ash Borer packs a pretty big punch.

"As they feed you get multiple beetles attacking a tree, in essence it cuts off the nutrients and water flow, it girdles the tree and it dies," said Kirby Stafford, chief Scientist and State Entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment station.

Those tree-killing beetles were first discovered in the state two years ago and have since spread to nearly 40 cities and towns in New Haven, Fairfield, Litchfield and Hartford counties.

Scientists said the bug recently turned up in Middlesex County, in the towns of Durham, Cromwell and Clinton.

Traps have been put up around the state to catch the beetles, but the easiest way the bug spreads is by people moving firewood.

Currently there is a quarantine on the movement of ash materials and firewood, in four counties, and Stafford said he expects it will soon be statewide.

There are 22 million ash trees in Connecticut and those that are diseased have splitting and yellowing of the bark.

While it can take five years before signs start to show up, scientists in the state are already trying to fight it.

"One of the steps taken is the release of natural enemies, a wasp that only attacks the emerald ash borer. They're being raised by the USDA," Stafford said, adding that there is a hope that they become established and have an impact on the beetle.

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