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ST. CLOUD — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture recently confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer in Benton and Mille Lacs counties for the first time, bringing the number of counties in the state infected with the invasive species to 44.

The Benton County infestation was found in a St. Cloud neighborhood and the Mille Lacs County infestation was discovered in Milaca along a set of powerlines.

Emerald ash borer was first found in the state in 2009. The insect larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark. Signs of an infestation include numerous woodpecker holes and tunnels that split open on the bark.

The MDA has issued an emergency quarantine to limit the movement of firewood and ash material out of the area to reduce the risk of further spread. The quarantine includes all of Benton County and the southern part of Mille Lacs County.

A virtual meeting for residents and tree care professionals will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 28.