Anyone who loves to hear the crack of the famed Louisville Slugger baseball bat will be saddened to hear that sound may soon be silenced; maybe for good.

The world famous bats are made from North American ash trees grown in abundance in Canada and the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the Carolinas .The Louisville Slugger baseball bat is the official bat of Major League Baseball, according to the company.

The Emerald Ash Borer, an intruder from Asia, has infested ash trees in the Northeast and threatens to invade the South, according to Sherry Aultman of the Clemson University department of plant industry.

Clemson University is currently monitoring state forests for evidence of the borer through the month of September. Clemson scientists are hanging large purple traps to capture the EAB, if and when they decide to show up in South Carolina.

The borer kills the ash trees when the larva bore into the wood, interrupt the vascular system and cut-off the tree’s water and nutrients.

In the state of Michigan over 40 million ash trees have been killed by borers. It is a serious problem and may be heading our way, says Aultman.

The United States Department of Agriculture has quarantined affected trees in the states infected with Emerald Ash Borer, but the pest persists.

Charlie Travis, owner of Carolina Western, Inc. of Greenville, a local lumber wholesaler, said that he has not heard of any EAB in the area. “Our primarily business is in oak and hickory. We sell ash on occasion. We certainly hope that EAB does not become a problem here,” he said.

Homeowners report that smaller trees on their property have responded to insecticide treatment with chemicals available at plant and nursery stores, but the trees must be treated each year to prevent re-infestation.

Ash is used commercially to make furniture and wood flooring, as well as baseball bats. The Louisville Slugger company says that ash makes the best bat for use in the game known as “America’s Pastime.” The company says they are looking at other woods that their bats could be made from just in case.

The EAB larva is a small grub about the size of a grain of rice. The EAB beetle, which does little harm, is an elongated bright green bug. Homeowners should be on the lookout for the EAB and also look for the tattletale signs of the larva by the “S” shaped tunnels they excavate just under the bark of ash trees.

Reporting from Clemson Forest, Clemson, SC Vince Jackson


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