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For Release: Monday, May 20, 2013

Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Delaware & Otsego Counties

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been confirmed for the first time in Delaware and Otsego counties by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The EAB was found just south of the village of Unadilla in Delaware County and just north of the village of Unadilla in Otsego County.

A timber harvester working in a private woodlot just south of Unadilla (in Delaware County) reported the suspected EAB infestation to DEC officials. This was the first report of a possible EAB infestation in a woodlot from the forest products industry in New York. Field observations and reports of suspected EAB infestations from the public are very important to the DEC in managing the satellite infestations and providing early-warning and response guidance to at-risk forest owners and communities.

DEC and NYSDAM staff responded to the suspected EAB report by visiting the site and NYSDAM inspectors collected specimens which were sent to USDA APHIS for official confirmation. Follow-up surveys by Cornell and NYSDAM staff identified additional suspected-infested trees just north and west of Unadilla, in Otsego County. A NYSDAM inspector also collected samples there and submitted them for confirmation. DEC, APHIS, Cornell University, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets will continue to study the infestation in the area in an attempt to determine its extent.

With the confirmation of EAB in Delaware and Otsego counties, New York now has 15 counties where EAB has been found. Most of the infested areas are small and localized, while more than 98 percent of New York's forests and communities are not yet infested.

New York State's EAB quarantine order was expanded through a NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) emergency rulemaking effective March 15, 2013, connecting two separate quarantine areas to make one uniform area encompassing all or part of 20 counties south of the NYS Thruway. The quarantine prohibits any movement of live EAB, in any life stage, from the site where they are found. This includes ash logs known or found to be infested from a woodlot, as well as infested firewood. Non-infested ash logs and products can be moved within the quarantine area, no movement of ash wood is allowed to leave the quarantine area to areas outside it.

DEC has adopted a strategy called Slow Ash Mortality (SLAM) to slow the spread of EAB within the state and mitigate its devastating economic and environmental impacts. DEC's SLAM strategy encompasses a variety of approaches, including removing infested trees, defining and monitoring infestation boundaries more precisely and researching insecticides and organisms that kill pests. As part of the strategy, DEC and APHIS deploy purple traps in areas of the state outside of the quarantine area, while DEC will also continue trapping near the known infestation during the summer months to help detect any new insect infestations.

Communities face particular risks, as ash is a common street and park tree; and green ash, in particular, has been widely planted as an ornamental tree in yards. Efforts like DEC's SLAM initiative can significantly delay the loss of ash trees and the subsequent costs for their removal and replacement.

DEC expects to announce the Request for Proposals for the next round of Urban & Community Forestry grants early this summer. Communities and non-profit organizations can apply for these grants to support EAB preparedness planning and response activities for their urban forests. Watch DEC's website for updates.

The EAB is a small but destructive beetle that infests and kills North American ash tree species, including green, white, black, and blue ash. Damage from EAB is caused by the larvae, which feed in tunnels just below the ash tree's bark. The tunnels disrupt water and nutrient transport, causing branches and eventually the entire tree, to die. Adult beetles leave distinctive D-shaped exit holes in the outer bark of the branches and the trunk. Other signs of infestation include tree canopy dieback, yellowing and extensive sprouting from the roots and trunk. Infested trees may also exhibit woodpecker damage from larvae extraction.

The first detection of EAB in New York was in the town of Randolph, Cattaraugus County, in June 2009. Since then, infestations were later discovered in more counties in Western New York and the Hudson Valley. New York has more than 900 million ash trees, representing about seven percent of all trees in the state, and all are at risk from EAB.

DEC's firewood regulation remains in effect, which prohibits the movement of untreated firewood of any species more than 50 miles from its designated source or origin. In 2008, New York first adopted regulations banning untreated firewood from entering the state and restricting intrastate movement of untreated firewood to no more than a 50-mile radius from its source. This was implemented as a precaution against the introduction and spread of EAB and other invasive species because of the documented risk of transmission by moving firewood. After more than three years of outreach and education efforts about the risks of moving firewood and the state's regulation, DEC is increasing its enforcement efforts to prevent the movement of untreated firewood into and around
New York.

DEC urges residents to watch for signs of infestation in ash trees. To learn more about EAB and the firewood regulations, visit DEC's website. Woodlot owners and municipalities can contact the nearest DEC Forestry office for technical assistance and forest management recommendations to prepare for the threat of EAB in their area. Forest landowners can request a DEC Forester visit their woodlot and develop a free Forest Stewardship Plan. This plan would address the landowner's objectives and discuss how the arrival (or proximity) of the EAB could impact the owner's forest resources. Forest owners can schedule a site visit by contacting their local DEC Forestry office.

To report signs of EAB, or ash trees showing symptoms of EAB attack, call DEC's emerald ash borer hotline at 1-866-640-0652 or submit an EAB report on DEC's website.

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