Smokies officials await arrival of invasive ash beetle

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Asian emerald ash borer has already killed millions of ash trees in Michigan and it's spreading south.

Now officials at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are worried the little green beetle could be brought in to the park on visitors' firewood.

Park crews already are waging a costly and time-consuming battle against the hemlock woolly adelgid, an insect pest that destroys hemlock trees; and biologists say it's only a matter of time before the emerald ash borer reaches the Smokies.

Officials have placed traps for the beetles, hoping for an early warning of their arrival.

Ash trees are hardy and have resisted insect infestations and disease in the past, but the emerald ash borer kills all four native ash species. Two of those species live in the Smokies.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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