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Tree-Killing Beetle Has Spread to Dallas County

The emerald ash borer now spotted in Dallas County.
The emerald ash borer has now been spotted in Dallas, Tarrant and Parker counties. Photo by Sam Kieschnick.

Tree-Killing Beetle Has Spread to Dallas County

Published June 22, 2022, By MARSHALL HINSLEY

Some Texas trees are being felled by a tiny critter, no bigger than a cooked grain of rice. 

The emerald ash borer may not look capable of bringing about the worst tree die-off event in U.S. history. But for arborists, forestry experts, and homeowners across the nation and here in Texas, the invasive species from northwestern Asia may be public enemy number one.

"EABs" are the hot topic among North Texas tree experts, who first spotted them in Tarrant County in 2018. The beetles have since spread to Dallas County, where they were discovered earlier this year.

The emerald ash borer is only about half an inch long with a bright-green cylindrical body. It feeds on all species of ash tree, creating S-shaped burrows in the phloem and sapwood — the living tissue that lies just beneath the bark in the outer circumference of a tree. This tissue transports water and nutrients to the branches of the tree, much like the arteries of the human body. 

If the phloem is compromised, the tree will lose its leaf canopy and die within three to five years. All ash trees that become infested with the emerald ash borer die without intervention.

Not to be mistaken for other metallic green beetles such as the beneficial fiery caterpillar searcher or the diverse array of green jewel beetles that live in the state and throughout the country, the emerald ash borer may be distinguished by the reddish abdominal area beneath its wings and the fact that adults are small enough to fit on the head of a penny.

“It's really pretty,” says Allen Smith, regional forest health coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service. “It's part of a family called the jewel beetles because they’re iridescent and they’re green – it’s a really pretty insect. And in their native range, they're a secondary pest, which means they don't actually kill trees; they just kind of show up and make their homes in diseased, dying, stressed trees.”

To read the article in its entirety, please download the PDF version above.

About the author

Mr. Marshall Hinsley

Marshall Hinsley is a writer and sustainable farmer who lives in Waxahachie. He's written for Culture Map Dallas, Edible Dallas & Fort Worth magazine and a variety of corporate clients. On his organic farm south of Waxahachie, Hinsley specializes in controlled-environment agriculture. Contact him at Marshall.Hinsley@gmail.com.

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