WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Canadian officials announced last month the presence of emerald ash borer in Winnipeg, Manitoba, just 65 miles from the North Dakota border.
The insect previously had been found in Quebec and in Ontario in Canada. It also has been found in central and eastern parts of the U.S.
With the new discovery, all movement of ash material, such as logs, branches and wood chips and all species of firewood from the affected areas, is restricted, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The agency will expand its regulated area in early 2018 to include the new infestation.
The emerald ash borer is a wood-boring insect native to Asia. The metallic green bug is slightly smaller than a ladybug but can cause big problems. Emerald ash borer larvae feed under the bark of ash trees, which damages and eventually kills the trees.
Emerald ash borers were found in southeast Michigan and in Canada in 2002, spreading from there into other parts of both countries and killing hundreds of millions of trees.
The finding of emerald ash borer in Winnipeg has been the closest infestation yet to North Dakota, leading officials with the state Department of Health to sound the alarm on the importation of firewood from unauthorized places.
"EAB spreads slowly on its own, but it can be moved long distances in firewood and ash nursery stock," State Forester Larry Kotchman said in a statement. "Please buy your firewood from local sources, and if you are coming from out of the state, please don't bring firewood with you."
North Dakota has more than 92 million ash trees, including at least 60 percent of the state's shelterbelts and about 50 percent of the trees along the state's rivers. Green ash are hardy trees, making them extremely important to the relatively treeless state.
According to the CFIA, ash trees are found on city streets, in woodlots, in windbreaks and in forests across southern Canada.
"In many areas of western Canada, ash trees are one of the few suitable for planting in urban areas," a fact sheet on emerald ash borer says.
Ash wood also is important and is used in furniture, hardwood floors, baseball bats, tool handles, electric guitars, hockey sticks and other materials that require strength and resilience, the CFIA says.
Previously, the closest infestation to North Dakota was in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
"Winnipeg is only a short 65 miles north of the North Dakota border," Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said in a statement. "Even though there are additional precautions in place for movement of regulated articles across the international border, it is still more important than ever for North Dakotans to take action to prevent it from coming here."
All other Canadian infestations in 2017 were in Quebec.
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and city foresters have been surveying for emerald ash borer since 2008. Trapping will continue in 2018 with more than 800 emerald ash borer traps in cities, state parks, recreation areas, campgrounds, rest stops, county fairgrounds and other areas of high risk to survey for the insect.
Moving firewood out of an uncertified area is a federal offense. Visit www.emeraldashborer.info/documents/MultiState_EABpos.pdf for a look at some areas regulated for emerald ash borer. The map has not been updated to include Manitoba.
More information about emerald ash borer is available on the North Dakota Department of Agriculture at https://www.nd.gov/ndda/plant-industries/pest-survey-and-outreach/emeral..., from the North Dakota State University Extension Service at www.ndinvasives.org or from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website at www.inspection.gc.ca/plants/plant-pests-invasive-species/insects/emerald-ash-borer/eng/1337273882117/1337273975030.