Tennessee is home to more than 250 million ash trees, and an invasive species called the Emerald Ash Borer is threatening them.
An infestation of EABs can kill an ash tree in one to three years. Its larvae live just underneath the bark layer and eventually choke the tree off from nutrients, according to Tennessee Department of Agriculture spokesperson Tim Phelps.
“It’s here, it’s not going away, and it’s going to continue to kill our ash trees,” Phelps said.
According to the TNDA, Tennessee’s ash trees account for $11 billion of value between their timber and their effects on home and land values.
Native to Asia, the beetles most likely arrived in the U.S. in the 1990s, Phelps said. Since then, EABs have spread across the eastern half of the U.S. They were first found in east Tennessee in 2010, and made their way to Davidson County by 2015. Phelps said EABs travel the fastest when people transport firewood from one area to another.
Williamson and Davidson County residents should check their own trees as the pests are already known to be in the area, he said.
“If you’re a homeowner that has an ash tree … there are treatments that can be done,” Phelps said. “Because we know that it’s here, now is the time to treat.”