Invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer

By Susan Littlefield

The emerald ash borer is a beetle native to Asia that was accidentally introduced into the U.S. less than a decade ago. It is thought to have arrived in wooden packing materials brought in by ship or air. Since its discovery in this country in southern Michigan in 2002, it has cut a swath of destruction as it has steadily expanded its range. So far this damaging pest has killed tens of millions of ash trees in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Many more trees are at risk if this invader is not contained.

To help increase public awareness of the problem and provide information on identifying the borer and preventing its spread, fourteen states and two Canadian provinces have combined resources to set up a website that makes the latest information on the borer available to the public. It contains sections on borer identification, its current range, how to report infestations in your state, current research and what to do if you have an infested tree on your property.

The emerald ash borer only attacks ash trees (those in the genus Fraxinus). The adult beetle is bright metallic green and about ?-inch long. It lays its eggs on the trees' bark; it's the larvae that hatch out from these eggs that do the damage as they tunnel into the tree to feed under the bark, eventually emerging as adult beetles. Look for their D-shaped exit holes in the bark of infested ash trees. Another clue that a tree may harbor borers is heavy woodpecker damage, as these birds feed on the larvae inside the tree.

Perhaps the most important piece of information for the general public is the caution not to move firewood, as this is one way in which the borer can be introduced to uninfested areas. Many of the states that are currently fighting the borer enforce quarantines and fines to prevent potentially infested ash trees, logs or hardwood firewood from moving out of areas where the borer is found.

To visit this website for more information on the emerald ash borer, go to: Emerald Ash Borer.

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