‘Highly Destructive,’ Tree-Killing Beetle Found in 3 NJ Counties

In the 1960s, the Beatles inspired a "tree-hugging" generation of hippies. Now, New Jersey residents should be on the lookout for a different kind of beetle that are attacking their ash trees. 

The emerald ash borer, a "highly destructive" beetle, has been detected in five New Jersey towns across three counties, New Jersey Department of Agriculture officials reported Monday.

“Emerald ash borer is a fast-moving, highly destructive invasive pest, which could lead to the death of ash trees,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “Now that the beetle is in New Jersey and is starting to spread, we ask that towns put plans in place to respond to the beetle.”

The Department of Agriculture encourages municipal officials and residents of Bridgewater and Hillsborough in Somerset County, Westampton in Burlington County and Ewing and West Windsor in Mercer County to visit the New Jersey Emerald Ash Borer website where they can find resources on how to protect their ash trees or what to do with dead or dying trees.

Philadelphia began removing its ash trees in January ahead of the bug's arrival.

The bug, which is native to Asia, is a metallic green color and about a half-inch long. Female emerald ash borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees and the larvae bore into the bark, cutting off the flow of nutrients, eventually killing the tree. The Department of Agriculture says tree death occurs three to five years after they are first infested.

A private citizen in Bridgewater first spotted the insects in New Jersey in May 2014. The beetles are now present in 25 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, according to the Department of Agriculture report. 

The report says the state has set up traps in ash trees to track EAB’s potential spread in 27 Burlington County towns, three Camden County towns, eight Hunterdon County towns, 10 Mercer County towns, 11 Middlesex County towns, 2 Monmouth County towns, 3 Morris County towns, 15 Somerset County towns and eight Union County towns. The complete list of towns can be found here

The Department of Agriculture recommends not moving any firewood during the infestation and also suggests that residents of affected towns burn all wood that is purchased.

Report signs of the beetle to the Department of Agriculture at 609-406-6939.

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