Asian beetle threatening Wisconsin's trees - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Asian beetle threatening Wisconsin's trees

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

A tiny insect is threatening Wisconsin's trees, and its potential for destruction is especially large with camping season going on.

The insect, the emerald ash borer, is smaller than a penny. It's a beetle from Asia that destroys ash trees, causing major damage to the environment. And it's making a lot of people nervous.

"It's around us a distance away, not here yet, but it's probably coming," said Bill Duncanson, director of the Marathon County Parks & Recreation Department.

Right now, there's no known emerald ash borer in central Wisconsin, Duncanson said. But that doesn't mean this area is safe. Other parts of Wisconsin have been infested including south of La Crosse, Green Bay, and the Milwaukee area.

Duncanson says the beetle could easily spread to us.

"People are the main cause of it moving, and firewood is how they're moving it," he said.

That's why Wisconsin has a strict rule: no firewood in any state parks from more than 25 miles away. In Marathon County, it's even stricter: no firewood from outside the county—at all—in county campgrounds. 

"We don't want to be behind the ball when it does come," said Duncanson. "We want to minimize the impact for when it comes here."

Of all the trees lining Wausau's streets, about 20 percent of them are ash, said Duncanson. Wausau has stopped planting ash trees, he said, and it's also getting rid of existing trees to combat the potential infestation of the beetle.

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