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Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer, was identified infesting ash trees in Southeastern United States. Emerald Ash Borer is an aggressive wood borer that attacks and kills all species of ash. Although stressed trees are always more prone to borer attack, evidence from Michigan suggests healthy well maintained trees are also killed by this beetle

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

Adults are slender, elongate beetles, about 13 mm long , and 1.6 mm wide, lacking a defined waist, flattened laterally top to bottom. Adults are dark metallic green in color with a coppery green head the top of the abdomen under the wings is purplish red.

Larvae are creamy white flat-headed borers with a small brown head retracted inside an enlarged, distinct, flattened prothorax. Larvae have bell-shaped abdominal segments without legs, flattened laterally, with a pair of brown pincers on the last segment. Mature larvae can reach in length 25-32 mm. Larvae are found under the bark in shallow S-shaped galleries, feeding in the cambium.

Ash trees are common yard and woodlot trees found throughout Wisconsin. Ash wood is used in making flooring, baseball bats, tool handles, and cabinets. They are very tolerant of urban environments and have in the past had few serious insect and disease problems. There are four native species of ash green, white, blue and black ash. Leaves are compound and are attached to opposite sides of a twig.

Life Cycle: Generally have a one year life cycle although that can be extended to two years in a vigorous host. These insects overwinter as fully grown larvae in chambers constructed under the bark of ash trees. They pupate in early spring and emerge as adults, leaving characteristic D-shaped emergence holes. Depending on where you live in Minnesota, expect adults to emerge any time from late May to August.

After feeding on leaves, adults mate and females lay eggs on the bark or in small cracks in it. Eggs hatch in 7 to 10 days. The whitish larvae, called flatheaded borers, tunnel under the bark, creating a series of winding, S-shaped galleries in the phloem and outer sapwood. These tunnels girdle the trunk and branches, interrupting the flow of water and nutrients. The larvae feed until fall then overwinter as prepupal larvae.

Emerald Ash Borer larvae

Emerald Ash Borer

Damage: Trees typically are killed in two to four years. When trees are first attacked by EABs, the symptoms are inconspicuous and hard to notice. By the end of the second year, thinning foliage and dieback in the crown begins to be apparent. By the third year, there is severe dieback and little foliage. Ash can tolerate small numbers of EAB larvae but trees are girdled and killed when populations become more numerous.

When the adults emerge, they create small, 1/8 inch D-shaped exit holes that are characteristic of this insect, although they can be hard to see. If you were to remove the bark on the trunk of a tree showing these symptoms, you should also find the larval galleries. Epicormic sprouts may form on the lower trunk and major branches as the tree responds to emerald ash borer activity. Woodpecker attacks on ash could also indicate the presence of emerald ash borers. Vertical splits in the bark due to callous tissue forming over old galleries may also be seen.

First, don’t transport firewood when you go camping or are buying it for home use, even if it is within Minnesota. Just buy the wood you need at local sites or at the campgrounds you are visiting. On its own, EAB will generally move only about 1/2 mile a year from infested sites. But with help from people, it can travel hundreds of miles when carried in firewood and other wood products or nursery stock.

Control: Management strategies for EAB should include surveys for the presence of the beetles, trace backs of infested ash nursery stock or wood products, appropriate handling of infested trees and materials, the use of trap trees to monitor continued infestations, public education and, where indicated, quarantine and regulation. If possible, the number and location of ash trees within a susceptible community or region should be determined by visual survey before an EAB infestation is even known to exist, in order to provide baseline information to determine the allocation of resources manpower, equipment, materials and funds needed in the event of an infestation.

Emerald Ash Borer Damage

Emerald Ash Borer Damage

Foliar and trunk sprays and chemical injections hold some promise for control, but these methods are more practical in landscape settings than in natural areas. Studies indicate that foliar spraying during maturation feeding by newly emerged adults May-June in MD is more effective than pesticide injection. Natural and chemical pesticides and methods of application are currently being evaluated. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office for current pesticide recommendations.

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