Invasive tree-killing beetle continues to spread across Rhode Island

Environment

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is reporting that Emerald Ash Borer, a species of insect from Asia, is continuing to wreak havoc on ash trees across the state.

The DEM labels the species as destructive to all ash species in Rhode Island, including white ash, green ash and black ash trees.

Ash trees make up roughly 2% of Rhode Island forests according to the DEM.

The beetles start out as larvae under the bark of ash trees and feed on the inner bark tissue. As time goes on and the ash trees become infested, they begin to rapidly decline and can be killed in as soon as three to five years.

The pest is responsible for widespread decline and mortality of hundreds of millions of ash trees across North America.

Related: URI scientists fight invasive tree-killing beetle with beetle-killing wasp »

The beetle was first found in the state back in 2018, with what the DEM calls “small number of pests.” They were found in Burrillville, Cumberland, Hopkinton, Lincoln, Providence and Westerly.

Since then, the beetle in much greater numbers have been found in a total of nine additional locations. Those locations include Charlestown, Foster, Glocester, North Smithfield, Scituate, Smithfield, South Kingstown, West Greenwich and Woonsocket.

To report a suspected exotic or invasive insect or plant, fill out the Invasive Species Reporting Form on the DEM’s website.

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