Invasive emerald ash borer beetle found in Berkshires

State officials have confirmed that the emerald ash borer, a destructive beetle, has been found in the Berkshire County town of Dalton.

The emerald ash borer (US Forest Service)

The small beetle, native to Asia, was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 after being introduced to North America in the 1990s. It’s known for its bright emerald green color and ability to kill a tree quickly by making holes directly under the bark of a tree. They are so tiny that seven of them could fit on the head of a penny.

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Since arriving, the beetles have killed millions of ash trees and caused billions of dollars in economic loss, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said. Massachusetts is the 18th state where it’s been detected.

Many environmental agencies, including the US Forest Service, are already working to prevent the spread of the beetles by preventing the movement of certain wood products in quarantine areas and ensuring stakeholders know how to properly treat and dispose of infested trees.

Research will also begin to identify the extent of the infestation and how long it’s been in the state, officials said.

“The Emerald ash borer brings a very serious threat to our ash trees, and we are not taking its presence lightly,” Ed Lambert, commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, said in a statement. “We are taking swift action to address the infestation, and are working to mitigate any impact an infestation could bring.”

Ash trees are plentiful in the Northern hardwood forest in Berkshire County. They are also common street trees in eastern Massachusetts.

Residents should look for D-shaped exit holes in the bark of ash trees and dieback in the upper third of the tree canopy.

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