The Emerald Ash Borer, a metallic green beetle native to eastern Asia, is spreading like wildfire across the state. Its next victim? Trees in the City of Longmont.
Until now, the Emerald Ash Borer had been limited to Boulder, but Longmont officials quarantined an infected tree this week hoping to keep the deadly beetle from spreading.
Longmont officials fear they may be too late.
Around 15 percent of the trees in Longmont are Ash, and right now they're at risk of being wiped out by the insect.
“Hopefully it's in the early stages in Longmont right now, but we don't really know,” said Longmont City forester Ken Wicklund.
The borer was found Monday in the area near 9th Avenue and Hover Street. It was arborist James Young who found the infected tree.
“The surrounding trees in that area are definitely susceptible to it and they have been for a while,” said Young.
Officials don't know how it got from Boulder to Longmont, but there's a chance it could have flown from wood being transported in a busy intersection. They are also looking at the possibility the borer may have been transportated from firewood.
The city's forester said it could have been in the city for three or four years.
“It’s a difficult road that we're on. Foresters are all about preserving trees and now we're removing trees that are green and alive,” said Wicklund.
The borer only attacks ash trees, and there are no natural predators to stop it.
It was brought to the U.S. from Asia in the early 2000s and popped up in Boulder for the first time in 2013.
"The adult which is the beetle will fly near an ash tree, lay eggs, the eggs [then] develop into a larva and the larva tunnel into the interior part of the tree,” said Laura Pottorff, with the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
The beetles then start feeding on the tree and the tree can no longer absorb water, resulting in the tree dying.
Longmont is spraying preventative pesticide to hundreds of trees, but there are thousands of trees and it's so expensive to spray them that there is no way they can get them all.
The city wants you to identify ash trees on your property, and be on the lookout for dead leaves or dead branches at the top of your ash trees. Borers will also leave D-shaped holes in the bark.
If you see such signs, call an arborist to come out and check it.
If you catch it early enough, the tree can be treated and saved and may prevent other trees from becoming infected.