A biologist with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says that the emerald ash borer will continue to spread across the Maritimes, but that its progress can be slowed.
“The insect will certainly spread,” said Ron Neville, a plant health survey biologist with CFIA.
“However, we have the ability to limit that spread. If we can curtail our movement of things like firewood, of infested firewood through the Maritimes, we can actually impact how quickly it spreads.”
Neville is part of a CFIA group leading a survey of Oromocto, N.B. where the invasive insect was found last week. Oromocto is the second place where the beetle has been found in New Brunswick and third in the Maritimes, joining Edmunston and Bedford.
CFIA hopes to get a clearer picture of the extent of the Oromocto infestation, but due to the difficulty of early detection, no one is sure just how big the problem is across the region.
“It takes several years before you realize that it’s here and by that time you’ve got a fairly big problem on your hands,” said Bernard Daigle, a knowledge exchange specialist with the Canadian Forest Service.
WATCH: The beetle was found in North America in 2000 and has destroyed many ash trees. Now, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is trying to rid the pest from New Brunswick. Silas Brown has more.
“We don’t know where it’s going to be here. They naturally move several hundred metres a year. That in itself is a relatively slow spread for an insect but it’s the movement of materials and getting the satellite populations throughout the region that is a big challenge.”
On their own the beetle will travel anywhere between 400 and 700 metres a year. The primary way that its made its way through North America is by hitchhiking on firewood or logging trucks.
Since it was introduced to Canada in 2002 the emerald ash borer has spread extremely quickly devastating ash trees across a large portion of North America. But as quickly its spread, the insect has proven equally hard to kill.
“Eradication, no. I think everybody agrees that’s not an option at this point,” said Daigle when asked if the bug can be successfully eradicated.
“Slowing the spread buys time. And with time, through research there may be some other options that we haven’t looked at yet that could provide something but that’s not a certain thing by any means.”
For now, CFIA is encouraging communities to come create management plans and to carefully monitor ash tree populations in order to catch the insect as quickly as possible should it appear.
“Monitoring is very important. Municipalities and communities need to get to know where their ash trees are and knowing which trees are susceptible and then monitoring them closely to see what kind of damage they might have or any signs or symptoms of the borer,” Neville said.
“And then some thought put into a management strategy of how to deal with the pest once it has arrived.”