HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 18, 2011 -- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture today announced that the state Emerald Ash Borer quarantine restricting the in-state movement of ash materials and all hardwood firewood will be lifted April 15. However, a federal quarantine remains in effect.

The Emerald Ash Borer is a highly invasive, wood-boring beetle that kills ash trees and poses a threat to the state's $25 billion hardwoods industry.

"Lifting our quarantine will allow free movement on Emerald Ash Borer-regulated materials within Pennsylvania," said acting Agriculture Secretary George Greig. "As Emerald Ash Borer has moved rapidly across the state, the in-state quarantine restrictions no longer serve a productive purpose."

Because of the beetle's aggressive movement across Pennsylvania, the in-state quarantine – initially intended to slow the pest's spread – is now unnecessary.

Since 2007, when the Emerald Ash Borer was first observed in Butler County, the pest has been found in 17 additional counties, including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Centre, Clarion, Cumberland, Fulton, Indiana, Juniata, Lawrence, Mercer, Mifflin, Somerset, Union, Washington and Westmoreland.

The state quarantine includes the counties where the beetle was found in addition to the contiguous counties, for a total of 43.

A parallel federal quarantine, also established in 2007, will remain effective in Pennsylvania to help stop the spread into other states. International and federal interstate restrictions will apply to exporting Emerald Ash Borer-regulated materials from Pennsylvania to non-quarantined domestic areas and regulating countries.

Greig added that Pennsylvania remains committed to finding ways to control the beetle, which in turn will protect the state's important hardwoods industry.

The quarantine initially restricted the movement of ash nursery stock, green lumber, and any other ash material, including logs, stumps, roots and branches, from the quarantine area. Because it is difficult to distinguish between species of hardwood firewood, all hardwood firewood—including ash, oak, maple and hickory—was quarantined.

The Emerald Ash Borer is native to China and eastern Asia. The pest likely arrived in North America in wooden shipping crates. It was first detected in July 2002 in southeastern Michigan and neighboring Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

In addition to Pennsylvania, the beetle is attacking ash trees in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Typically, the Emerald Ash Borer beetles will kill an ash tree within three years of the initial infestation. Adults are dark green, one-half inch in length and one-eighth inch wide, and fly only from early May until September. Larvae spend the rest of the year beneath the bark of ash trees. When they emerge as adults, they leave D-shaped holes in the bark about one-eighth inch wide.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

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