The Missouri Department of Conservation says a beetle that is fatal to ash trees has spread to southwest Missouri.
The department says the emerald ash borer was recently found in Laclede County. It is the first time the insect was found in southwest Missouri. It has now been found in 31 Missouri counties, with most confirmed cases in southeast Missouri, Kansas City and St. Louis.
The small, metallic green beetle attacks only ash trees. The insect's larvae burrow into the bark of the trees, killing them within three to four years.
The insect was first found in Missouri in 2008. It likely entered the state through infested firewood.
Officials have cut down thousands of healthy ash trees in an effort to slow the insect's spread.