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The Terrible Emerald Ash Borer

By Richard - Posted on 09 January 2011

The Emerald Ash Borer

Recently, I found out that not everything is perfect in many forests in many States in the U.S. An evil, green menace, the emerald ash borer (EAB), has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees across much of the northern part of the country from Michigan to New York and as far south as Tennessee. States include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and in parts of Canada. (See photo.) This destructive monster is just a little thing, as small as a penny. The average adult is no longer than 1/2-inch and only 1/8-inch wide. They are metallic green in color. They are native to China and eastern Asia and probably arrived in wood packing materials. Ash trees are pretty pervasive as they are used extensively in residential and commercial landscapes as well as being found naturally in woodlots, along creekbeds, and in low-lying wetlands. Even if you don't own a forest, you can be on the lookout for ash tree infestation in your backyard or along that row of trees planted along your street. Some distinctive characteristics of ash trees include:

    Ash seeds are oar shaped and are in cluster. (But not all ash trees reproduce seeds.)
    Ash tree branches are directly across from each other. It's like looking in a mirror.
    The leaves of an ash tree are compound, composed of five to 11 leaflets.
    The bark in older ash trees displays a diamond-shaped pattern.

How do you know if an ash tree is infested? The creatures and their larvae are difficult to spot but you can see the early signs of ash-tree death. Some early symptoms include dead branches near the top of a tree or wild, leafy shoots growing out from its lower trunk. You can also look for D-shaped exit holes and bark splits exposing S-shaped tunnels. If woodpeckers have taken an increased interest in an ash tree, that could also mean the tree is infested as woodpeckers forage for the creature. There's nothing that can be done for a tree once it's been infested except to remove it and properly disposing of the wood. Short of prevention and removing infested trees, there is no cure for this ash-tree plague. EAB infestation is 100% fatal to ash trees, 100% of the time. Homeowners with high-value ash trees can buy federally-approved insecticides but because State laws vary, it's best to check with your State department of agriculture first. Prevention remains the only true defense so here are some steps you can take to prevent its spread:

    Don't move firewood. In fact, in many states, it's illegal.
    Visually inspect your trees.
    Know your State and Federal regulations.

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