The Missouri Department of Conservation has confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer in Chariton, Lafayette, and Moniteau counties, bringing the statewide total to 78 counties known to have the pest. The borer is a small, metallic green beetle native to Asia that attacks all species of ash trees, killing more than 99 percent of the trees it attacks. According to a Department of Conservation Forest entomologist one of the best ways to keep track of the borer and its march across Missouri is to look for bark blonding, a term that refers to woodpecker damage on ash trees. The Conservation Department has received dozens of reports this winter of ash trees with bark blonding, a sign that populations are increasing rapidly across the state. Department officials indicate that the emerald ash borer will likely be found statewide within the next few years, and Missourians with ash trees in their yard are urged to make a plan now to either remove those trees or treat them with an insecticide.