RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Forest Service reported this week the emerald ash borer was detected in Pitt and Stanley counties for the first time. This marks 62 counties in the state to detect the tree-killing beetle.

emerald ash borer

The insect is metallic green in color.

The Forest Service explains adult borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees.

When those eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark to feed on transportation tissues of the tree. This starts a slow death for the tree with it ultimately dying in three to five years.

The beetle has been found in most Triangle counties including Wake, Durham, and Orange since its arrival in North Carolina in 2013.

Signs of an ash borer infestation include:

  • Thinning and dying crowns
  • Increased woodpecker activity that causes the tree to look like it is losing patches of bark
  • Small, 1/8-inch D-shaped exit holes where adult beetles emerged from the trees
  • Galleries on the inside of the bark
  • Cream-colored larvae
  • Epicormic sprouting or sprouting from the main stem of the tree

Emerald ash borers have already killed millions of trees nationwide since its first detection in 2002. It is not native to the U.S. but is believed to have arrived in the states through wood packing materials made of ash.

North Carolina is currently under quarantine for the insect. It means movements of any movement of ash tree or ash tree parts to nonquarantined areas where the beetle is not present are prohibited.