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HOPE, Ark. (AP) - State agriculture officials say an insect native to Asia that kills ash trees has been confirmed in three Arkansas counties.

The Arkansas State Plant Board and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture say the emerald ash borer has been found in Hot Spring, Clark and Nevada counties. The insect arrived in the U.S. around 2002 and has killed about 50 million ash trees since then.

Officials say the insect has now been confirmed in 24 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

Female emerald ash borers lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark, eventually killing the trees.

Officials say the best way to avoid the spread of the insect is to not move firewood from place to place.

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