By Elizabeth Barber
BOSTON (Reuters) - An invasive beetle able to kill ash trees within a few years and regarded as one of the most destructive pests in North America has been found in Boston, officials said.
Massachusetts officials have found the emerald ash borer in Boston’s Arnold Arboretum, the first time it has been spotted in the state's most populous city. The beetle was first seen in Massachusetts two years ago, in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.
The emerald ash borer, a bantam and bright green insect, eats into ash trees’ bark, gouging an S-shaped gulf in the tree’s water and nutrients transport line. That can kill a tree within three to five years, according to the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, which calls the beetles “the most destructive pest in North America.”
"Usually by the time you find the damage on the tree, it’s too late," Ken Gooch, forest health program director at the Department of Conservation and Recreation, said in a Thursday interview.
The emerald ash borer, native to Asia, was first seen in the United States in 2002 in Detroit and has since been found in 23 U.S. states. Gooch said the beetles likely were carried into Boston in bundles of firewood cut in rural parts of the state, although state officials have banned moving wood out of counties where the beetle has been found.
Options for ousting the beetles – who left their predators behind in Asia – are limited. Two pesticides exist but are expensive, Gooch said.
The department also plans to release wasps known to prey on the emerald ash borer in the Boston-area, he said.
"It's not going to be a quick fix," Gooch said.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)