JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi Forestry Commission is warning Mississippians to watch out for emerald ash borer, an invasive pest that has killed millions of trees.

“The emerald ash borer is an invasive, non-native pest that has killed millions and millions of trees across the eastern U.S.,” said Russell Bozeman, Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) state forester. “We strongly believe it is only a matter of time before this forest pest finds its way into Mississippi.”

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an exotic beetle discovered in the United States in 2002 near Detroit, Mich. Since then, it has spread to 35 states and five Canadian provinces. Mississippi and Florida are the only states east of the Mississippi River that have reported no EAB infestations to date.

Originally from Asia, the EAB is believed to have entered the country on infested solid wood packing material or wooden pallets.

“In Mississippi, ash trees don’t make up a very large percentage of merchantable wood,” Bozeman said. “However, ash trees are widely used in urban landscapes as ornamentals and shade trees. An EAB outbreak would be costly to those communities with numerous ash trees.”

The EAB is primarily spread by humans through the transportation of infested firewood, wood pallets and other ash products.

To help prevent the spread of EAB into Mississippi, the MFC offers this list of things the public can do.

  • If you suspect you have an EAB infestation, report it immediately to the MFC. Visit mfc.ms.gov to find your local MFC forester.
  • If possible, take photos of the insect and damage.
  • Don’t move firewood a distance of more than five miles.
  • Buy firewood from local sources and burn it where you buy it.
  • Buy kiln-dried firewood.
  • Before spring, burn remaining firewood to prevent EAB from spreading to live trees.

For more information about the emerald ash borer, visit mfc.ms.gov.