Invasive Tree-killing Bug Spotted in Poconos

TANNERSVILLE -- For the first time, a species of beetle known for killing ash trees has been spotted in Monroe and Wayne Counties.

Officials say a population of emerald ash borer beetles was confirmed near Tannersville last month.

Now, members of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) are working to treat trees before the problem gets any bigger.

This species of beetle is only about the size of a penny but the damage it can do is far bigger. If this destructive bug finds its way to an ash tree, the tree will die.

Because of the sighting, forestry officials are working to treat as many ash trees as they can.

"The eggs hatch and burrow inside the bark. What happens is the larva feeds on the area inside the tree and it pretty much destroys part of the trees vascular system," explained DCNR forester Garrett Beers.

A spotting of this beetle species was confirmed last month near Tannersville.

According to DCNR, the first time the bug was confirmed in the U.S. was nearly a decade ago in Michigan.

Simply moving firewood from one area to another can help the bugs travel but experts say they likely got east by shipping crates that pass through waterways.

"Probably through the St. Lawrence Seaway, through all the seaports there, and then they got out and spread east, spreading south, pretty much just spreading out in a big circle from the actual first location where they were discovered," said Beers.

In the Poconos, the only places where these ash-killing beetles have been identified were in Wayne and Monroe Counties. Officials tell us even though the bugs are only the size of a penny, they do a lot of damage. if a tree is infected, the only thing you can do is cut it down.

Officials say woodpecker damage is a telltale sign ash beetles are near.

You'll also notice the bark has a pink tint to it.

"It's pretty obvious once you start noticing it once or twice, you start to know it's most likely EAB," added Beers.

Officials plan to start treatment on ash trees throughout the Poconos later this spring to prevent any further infestation.

The state says emerald ash borers have now shown up in every county in the state except Pike County and two near Philadelphia.