Even though Emerald Ash Borer hasn’t arrived in Utah yet, the state is taking a proactive stance by creating a task force dedicated to battling the destructive invasive beetle.

The Emerald Ash Borer has already killed 50 million trees in the Eastern United States and was reported in Boulder, Colorado in September 2013. It is considered one of the most destructive forest insects ever and state officials say it’s only a matter of time until it arrives in Utah.

“Some people are going as far as saying it is the most destructive pest that we’ve seen in North America,” said Meridith Perkins, urban and community forestry coordinator with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. “It’s basically wiping out the entire ash population.”

Ash trees are popular in Utah since they grow well in challenging environment, providing ample shade with beautiful fall colors. Perkins estimates Utah’s public urban forest is between 15 and 20 percent ash, and as much as 40 percent in newer communities.

Perkins says the emerald ash borer could arrive in 10 years or as soon as this summer.

The shiny, metallic green beetle is about a half inch long, and has the ability to kill an ash tree within two to three years of infestation.

The public can help in the fight against Emerald Ash Borer by looking for signs of infestation, including thinning canopies, “D “shaped exit holes, new growth at the base of the tree, bark splits and woodpecker feeding. Utah residents should also avoid transporting firewood because that is how the beetle spreads most often.

Tree care workers can help prevent the spread of Emerald Ash Borer by encouraging their clients to plant something other than ash.

Dr. Clifford Sadoff, a professor of ornamental pest management at Purdue University, expert on the matter and recent speaker at New England Grows, pointed out several new ways to fight the beetle, including a new app, inventory management and insecticides.

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