The little bug that could (eat up U.P. forests)

Michigan State Roundup

Published November 1, 2005  | November 2005 issue

State forestry officials are sounding the alarm bells over an insect just one-half inch long.

The emerald ash borer was discovered for the first time in mid-September in the U.P. during a survey of ash trees near Sault Ste. Marie. Officials called the discovery an isolated infestation, but nonetheless called it a "grave" threat because spread of the insect could induce losses of ash trees on the same scale as elm trees lost to Dutch elm disease in the 1980s.

The borer has been in lower Michigan for some time, and officials there had hoped to stop its spread by implementing travel restrictions on ash firewood and other ash products into the U.P.

Forestry officials said they are removing all ash trees within a half-mile radius of the discovery in hopes of halting the borers' spread. One major relief: The discovery was made in the eastern U.P., where densities of ash trees are lower than in some other areas.

Ronald A. Wirtz