The emerald ash borer, an invasive pest that specifically targets vulnerable ash trees, has moved its way further into New York counties, reports indicate, after being identified in Westchester and Broome counties by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

That's at least according to DEC commissioner Joe Martins, who announced the discovery of ash borers in traps deployed by the department.

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive species with few-to-none natural predators in the United States. This leaves the insect to freely reproduce en masse. Its larvae feed just below an ash tree's bark, interfering with the plant's water and nutrient uptake and causing it to die. After first being found in New York's Cattaraugus County in 2009, the insect - recognized by its vibrant green color - has marched on to invade a total of 24 counties, including these two latest ones.

However, it's important to add that most of the infested areas are small and localized and more than 98 percent of New York's forests and communities are not yet infested.

According to Martins, that's in part thanks to the "DEC's continuing Slow Ash Mortality (SLAM) strategy, to slow the spread of EAB within the state and mitigate its economic and environmental impacts."

"SLAM is an approach we're using in New York to combat EAB and includes the removal of infested trees, defining and monitoring infestation boundaries more precisely, researching insecticides and organisms that kill the pest, and monitoring areas not known to be infested for signs of EAB presence," he explained in a statement. (Scroll to read on....)

So why all the fuss? Ash trees are but a drop in the bucket for New York tree variety, representing a mere seven percent of all the trees in the state. The DEC has even already suggested that replanting non-host trees in some forests will keep local forest ecosystems healthy even in the wake of an invasion.

However, a stunning portion of the more than 900 million ash trees in the state can be found in residential areas, lining the sides of roads or even used as ornamental trees in yard. The cost of replacing these trees would be significant, and the damage they may cause if they collapse could be equally costly.

Instead, officials are hoping to stop the EAB invasion in its tracks.

Nature World News recently reported how an effective control strategy may involve the crafting of small electrified "female" EAB decoys. These decoys are inexpensive to make, and have been found to be effective at attracting male EABs, who move in to mate only to get a lethal zap.