An invasive pest that has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America has finally been found in Maine.
Maine conservation and forestry officials say they have long anticipated that the emerald ash borer, a forest insect from Asia, would make its way to the state.
State Entomologist Dave Struble says they have been looking for the borer in the state for about 15 years and finally found it last week in Madawaska. The ash borer had just been discovered across the river in Edmunston, New Brunswick.
“We gotta work on the assumption that there’s a high possibility that there are additional spots either further downstream in Madawaska or further down into Grand Isle or even beyond,” he says.
Struble says all indications are that the insect has been found early, but he doesn’t think the emerald ash borer can be eradicated.
“But I think we can slow the spread and buy a bunch of time to manage,” he says.
Struble says investigators will be exploring how to keep the pest contained.
Officials say the estimated commercial value of Maine ash trees is approximately $320 million.