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(Jefferson City) – Sighting of a foreign insect leads to concern for thousands of Missouri trees.

On July 25, the Missouri Department of Agriculture confirmed a sighting of an Emerald Ash Borer, an insect that is native to Asia that feeds on and kills ash trees, has been seen in Kansas City. Officials have been watching out for its arrival ever since the Emerald Ash Borer was seen in Southeastern Missouri, back in 2008.

Mark Nelson, the Forestry Regional Supervisor with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says that these insects could lead to a very slow death sentence for many ash trees in the area. It only takes only one borer, to kill a tree, for its fatal 100 percent of the time.

Many communities have already chosen to beat the insects to the punch, by cutting down ash trees and replacing them with different species before the bugs even arrived. Kansas City removed about 60 ash trees from eight Benton Boulevard blocks in 2010. This past spring, St. Louis announced it would cut down more than 900 ash trees on the grounds surrounding the Gateway Arch.

If your yard contains any ash trees, there is no reason to run out and treat it. Rather, it’s more important to spend money on water or properly pruning it, because the bugs tend to target unhealthier trees.

To be able to tell if your ash trees have been invested, examine your tree for S-shaped channels underneath loose bark and D-shaped exit holes. If your tree has any of these issues it is important to call your local forester.

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