Officials with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry say an emerald ash borer was found in a beetle trap in Payson Park in Portland, marking the third time the destructive insect has been found in the state.
A single adult beetle was found in the trap. "That probably means that there is a local infestation, because a trap will not pull in beetles from very far, so it indicates that somewhere in Portland there must be a tree infested with emerald ash borer," says state horticulturalist Gary Fish.
The beetle, which has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees across the country was discovered in Northern Aroostook County in 2018 and then popped up in York County later that year.
"It's kind of a whack-a-mole thing,” says Fish. He says the insect's far-flung appearances suggest that they are likely being moved to new areas through the transportation of wood materials.
“You see, emerald ash borer has shown up in just the last couple of years in Nova Scotia in a couple of places, in New Brunswick three or four places, two areas, now the third area in Maine," he says.
Fish says that on their own the beetles don't spread that quickly. "If it's moving more than a half mile or two miles, then we know that it's humans that are moving it," Fish says.
The Maine Forest Service plans to issue an emergency order to limit the movement of ash wood as well as mixed firewood from Portland and the surrounding communities.
Fish says the communities targeted in the order will include Cape Elizabeth, Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gorham, Long Island, North Yarmouth, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook, Windham and Yarmouth.