The discovery was made by Matthew Mountzuris, who observed a dense stand of dead tree canopies frequented by an increasing number of woodpeckers in North Andover, Mass., just three miles from the New Hampshire border and 30 miles from Portsmouth. Mountzuris called the Department of Conservation and Recreation in Massachusetts, who confirmed that dead trees to all be white ash and their killer to be the emerald ash borer.
Now, all firewood and untreated lumber in Essex County, Mass. has been quarantined.
But while a quarantine can help slow the spread of the invasive beetle, it's unlikely to prevent it from making its way into New Hampshire. The bug has already killed millions of trees throughout the U.S., and has spread every year since it was first discovered in Michigan in 2002.
The tree-killing beetle, which made its way to the U.S. from Asia, is currently in 23 states, including Connecticut, where conservationists are trying to keep the pest in check. Though its yet to move east of the Connecticut River, experts know -- just as is the case on the Massachusetts and New Hampshire border -- it's only a matter of time.
"It's not a question of if, it's when," said Gale Ridge, assistant scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Ash trees make up some 4 to 15 percent of Connecticut's forests. In New Hampshire, they account for roughly 6 percent.