PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Oregon’s Emergency Board approved more than half a million dollars to support efforts to slow the spread of the invasive emerald ash borer. 

These invasive and destructive beetles have killed up to 99% of the ash trees in some North American locations and they were discovered in Forest Grove in June. This was the first discovery of the eastern ash borer in Oregon. It’s been detected in 34 other states.  

The insect is considered the most destructive forest pest in North America and the Oregon Department of Forestry said it could put the state’s native Oregon ash tree at risk. 

The $550,000 from the Oregon Emergency Board will fund additional emerald ash borer response efforts. It will pay for surveys in and around Forest Grove, treatment, green waste collection, outreach and coordination. 

The Oregon Department of Agriculture said that if the emerald ash borer does devastate Oregon ash trees, that could in turn affect habitats where the tree is common, such as wetlands and sensitive riparian zones. It could also reduce urban forest cover. 

The emerald ash borer has proven deadly to all ash tree species in North America and Europe. At least five ash species native to the Central U.S. have become critically endangered as the emerald ash borer spreads across the country. 

Within a decade of the emerald ash borer’s arrival in an area, most ash trees will be dead or dying, the Oregon Department of Forestry said. 

So far, the state has only found the eastern ash borer within the limits of Forest Grove in Washington County. 

The Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon State University and regional, county and city groups are working to educate the public on how to detect and identify the insects and the ash trees it infects. The goal is to determine how quickly the destructive insect is spreading in the state. 

Entomologists say the best time to see eastern ash borers is in April, May and June when adults emerge from under tree bark. By October, the insects are no longer flying and visible. 

The eastern ash borer interagency task force, which is made up of state, regional, county and city representatives, is meeting regularly to coordinate their research. The task force posts its agendas online

The task force is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection service, to identify the best sites to release natural enemies such as four tiny stingless wasp species. They hope the wasps can slow the spread of the eastern ash borer in Oregon. 

For now, the public is asked to find out if they have any ash trees on their property and to become familiar with how to identify the eastern ash borer. There are several insects that resemble the emerald ash borer and the state has information online to help identify the invasive species from look-alikes. 

The emerald ash borer is about a half-inch long and an eighth of an inch wide. It’s known for its metallic, shiny green color. They create tiny, D-shaped exit holes in tree bark.