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The discovery of the exotic pest in a tree in Ralls County didn’t surprise David Vance, MDC Resource Forester assigned to Ralls County, due to its proximity to the 2015 discovery of EAB in a tree on Country Club Drive. Ralls County is now the 36th county determined to have a presence of EAB in Missouri, according to MDC. EAB — a small, metallic green beetle native to Asia — attacks ash trees and kills 99 percent of infested trees within three to four years. In Missouri, MDC first observed the pest in 2008 in the southeast part of the state. Since then, the pest has spread to several southeast and south-central Missouri along with the Kansas City area, and, most recently, Hannibal. It was originally discovered in Michigan in 2002. After reading a story about EAB in the Quincy, Ill., area, Collin Wamsley, state entomologist with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, observed EAB larval galleries in a declining ash tree along U.S. 61 south of Hannibal. blog “After gaining permission from the private landowner to examine the tree, he discovered the distinctive S-shaped galleries made by EAB larvae,” Vance explained. Adult EABs pose little threat to trees, but larvae bore into the vascular layer of ash trees, creating distinct S-shaped galleries that slowly cut off the flow of water and nutrients. “In order for a county to be officially confirmed to have EAB by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an EAB adult beetle or larva needs to be collected and sent to the national identifier,” Vance said. “This identification typically takes less than a week. In the Ralls County EAB detection, no EAB adult or larva has been found yet.” According to Vance, Wamsley found “definitive signs” of the tree pest. The USDA is expected to confirm the pest once an adult beetle or larvae is captured. Wamsley “placed several large, purple prism traps around Ralls County as a way of capturing EAB adults.
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