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Tennessee Department of Agriculture reports Putnam County and Five additional East Tennessee Counties quarantined for Emerald ash borer

The Tennessee Department of AgricultureNashville, TN – A quarantine for Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect that destroys ash trees has been expanded to include another Middle Tennessee county and five more northeastern Tennessee counties. Putnam, Sullivan, Washington, Unicoi, Carter and Johnson counties have been added to the list of areas restricted for the movement of ash trees and ash tree products.

This brings the total number of Tennessee counties under a state and federal EAB quarantine to 27.

Emerald Ash Borer.
Emerald Ash Borer.

Over the past three years, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture have regulated only the counties where at least one EAB specimen was detected.

EAB has been found in Putnam County, but because small EAB populations can sometimes go undetected, TDA is taking the precautionary measure of expanding the EAB quarantine to the five northeastern counties without a positive detection.

“Because EAB has been found in all the East Tennessee areas surrounding these counties there is a high likelihood that it is there as well, but has so far, gone undetected,” Gray Haun, TDA’s Plant Certification administrator said. “We feel it is in the best interest of the state to go ahead and quarantine these locations.”

Quarantining the five outlier counties will actually reduce the regulatory burden on the forest products industry and consumers across the region. Currently, anyone moving ash product or ash firewood from a quarantine area to a non-quarantine area must be under a compliance agreement with USDA-APHIS and TDA and ash logs can only move during non-flight periods for the pest. The quarantine expansion will allow the free movement of ash materials across contiguous counties within the quarantine area.

The insect has been previously found through the EAB detection program deployed by TDA and USDA-APHIS where purple box traps are placed in trees.

EAB is a destructive forest pest that was introduced from Asia into the United States in the 1990’s. Over the past decade, EAB has spread to 21 states and parts of Canada.  This pest was first detected in Tennessee in 2010 in Knox County. Since that time, it has spread to 22 counties throughout East and Middle Tennessee.

The EAB quarantine prohibits the movement of firewood, ash nursery stock, ash timber and other material that can spread EAB. Citizens should report any symptomatic ash trees to TDA and follow these simple rules:

  • Leave firewood at home. Don’t transport firewood, even within the state.
  • Use firewood from local sources near where you’re going to burn it, or purchase firewood that is certified to be free of pests (it will say so on the label included with the packaging).
  • If you have moved firewood, burn all of it before leaving your campsite.
  • Watch for signs of infestation in your ash trees. If you suspect your ash tree could be infested with EAB, visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/eab for a symptoms checklist and report form or call TDA’s Consumer and Industry Services Division at 1.800.628.2631.

For more information about EAB and other destructive forest pests in Tennessee, visit the new website: www.protecttnforests.org.

The site is a multi-agency effort to inform and educate Tennesseans on the harmful impacts insects and diseases have on our trees, where the problem spots are, and what landowners can do to help protect their trees.

Other EAB information

EAB attacks only ash trees. It is believed to have been introduced into the Detroit, MI area approximately 20 years ago on wood packing material from Asia.

Signs of the Emerald Ash Borer found on this tree.
Signs of the Emerald Ash Borer found on this tree.

Since then, the destructive insect has killed millions of ash trees across several states including Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Typically, the Emerald Ash Borer beetles can kill an ash tree within three years of the initial infestation. Adults are dark green, one-half inch in length and one-eighth inch wide, and fly only from April until September, depending on the climate of the area.

In Tennessee, most EAB adults would fly in May and June. Larvae spend the rest of the year beneath the bark of ash trees. When they emerge as adults, they leave D-shaped holes in the bark about one-eighth inch wide.

TDA’s Division of Forestry estimates that five million urban ash trees in Tennessee are potentially at risk from EAB. The risk represents an estimated value loss of $2 billion. There are an estimated 261 million ash trees on Tennessee public and private timberland potentially valued as high as $9 billion.

For more information about other TDA programs and services visit www.tn.gov/agriculture.


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