Year of the cicada: After 17 years, large cicada brood will emerge aboveground

This spring, the eastern United States will play host to one of nature’s great marvels — periodical cicadas, mysterious insects that live underground either 13 or 17 years before emerging for a few short weeks of furious mating closely followed by mass death. 

Keeping ash in the Smokies: Land managers, conservation groups work to protect ash from invasive pest

At some point roughly 20 years ago, a shipment from Asia arrived in the United States with a passel of six-legged stowaways lurking in its wooden pallets. Since it was first detected near Detroit in 2002, the emerald ash borer has gnawed its way through ash trees across North America, leaving a swath of destruction across 31 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces — and counting.

The EAB was first spotted in North Carolina in 2013, when it was confirmed in Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties, a contiguous area in the central part of the state bordering Virginia. Now it’s present in 33 of the state’s 100 counties and continues to spread. WNC counties with confirmed ash borer infestations are Haywood, Swain, Macon, Graham, Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties — this month, the N.C. Forest Service found EAB on several trees in the Alarka area of Swain County after the beetle was initially found in Bryson City last summer.

One house at a time: Bug lady keeps WNC homes pest-free

Before Karen Walston began running her first extermination route 16 years ago, she had no plans to become The Bug Lady of WNC. At the time, she was doing a part-time office job for a bigger pest control company, but when she asked for more hours she got more than she bargained for.

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