Currently, Clermont County is one of only four areas in the United States under quarantine for the Asian Longhorned Beetle and checking trees for the pests could be important to preventing their spread.
The beetles are dangerous, burrowing in and out of trees and permanently weakening their limbs and structure. Damaged trees could more easily come down or drop branches, particularly in severe weather.
"In Ohio, we discovered the beetle because of a property owner who had called in and said that they had a tree and just something wasn't right with it," said Courtney Fulks, agriculture inspection manager with the ODA Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program. "So, having the public call in and report any signs of the beetle or potential infestations is really important."
Signs homeowners can look for include egg sites where the beetle chews into the tree and exit holes, usually smaller than a dime. The beetle itself is shiny and black with white spots and long antenna.
Once the USDA is aware of the presence of the beetle, they can send a team to begin surveying the trees.
"East Fork State Park campground is within our Asian Longhorn Beetle quarantine," said Fulks. "So, what that means is if they bring firewood into the campground that is regulated, it cannot leave the campground. So it's really important for us to make sure that everyone knows that way. If that firewood was potentially infested with Asian Longhorn Beetles, they're not spreading that around the state."
The quarantine restrictions make up 57 square miles of Tate Township and East Fork State Park, as well as portions of East Fork wildlife area in Clermont County.
During an inspection Tuesday, USDA officials said the location they searched has so far found no infestations of the beetle.
"But through extensive surveys in the campground area, and in this area that's on the north of the Harsher Lake, it's become clear that so far today there aren't any infestations of Asian Longhorn Beetle in that area," said Phil Balduf, program director of the USDA's ALB Eradication Program.
Fulks said if surveys continue to show promising results, the firewood restrictions in that area could be lifted.
In 2018, Monroe Township also successfully controlled the beetle after reporting an infestation.