HOUGHTON - For the first time, the emerald ash borer has been detected in three locations in and around the city of Houghton. Previously, the invasive insect had not been detected south of Laurium.
The beetle is known for its devastation of ash trees. It attacks the tree by burrowing under the bark and blocking access for the tree to receive nutrients and water.
Andrew Storer, professor and associate dean of Michigan Technological University's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science said it's unknown how exactly the emerald ash borer got up here, but it was likely through the movement of firewood.
Storer said what makes the EAB so dangerous is that it has the potential to wipe out a species of tree.
"The prospect of losing any tree species from a forest ecosystem is a pretty dire prospect," Storer said. "They're a natural component of our forest that we don't want to lose."
According to Storer, data from a few years ago suggested the number of infected trees in lower Michigan, Indiana and Ohio was at about 50 million.
"Obviously it's significantly more than that now," Storer said.
A quarantine is in place to help control the spread of EAB and Storer suggests contacting the Michigan Department of Agriculture for exact quarantine regulations.
"They can also contact them if they want to move material that would be contrary to the quarantine," Storer said.
Storer added that there are ways to protect ash trees on private property or urban areas through methods like insecticide injections but suggested that methods like that may not be enough.
"We do need to plan ahead for the fact that most of these trees will probably succumb to the Emerald Ash Borer in the coming years," Storer said.
Purple traps have been setup in various forested areas in order to detect the presence of beetle.
John Bedford with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said the traps have chemicals, like manuka oil, that attract the beetles. According to Bedford, the color purple is also attractive to the beetle.
"The color purple is very specific," Bedford said. "It's funny how a very slight change in color reduces the attractiveness of the trap."
Bedford said MDARD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have worked together to place around 260 traps across high-risk counties, which include Gogebic and Ontonagon. Other traps have been placed around the Houghton and Calumet area by Michigan Tech, according to Bedford.
Despite traps and quarantines, Bedford doesn't believe it will be possible to completely rid ourselves of the EAB.
"Eradication of this pest is very unlikely," Bedford said. "It's a matter of applying various tactics, like looking at developing ash trees that are resistant to it. We'll have to manage it, but eradication is probably out of the question right now."
To help control the spread of the EAB, MDARD asks that people do not move firewood, and burn all the firewood they have.