As we welcome in the spring season, it is a good time to review the battle to control the emerald ash borer in the United States, which is now in its sixth year. This introduced exotic pest has killed more that twenty five million trees (see image at right of trees in decline), and in spite of tens of millions of dollars spent on control measures, this insect is spreading to an ever widening area. The emerald ash borer will have a major impact in all locales where ash trees are dominate, either as landscape and street tree specimens or in native woodland populations. In North America, the emerald ash borer attacks only ash trees, primarily white ash (Fraxinus americana) and green ash (F. pennsylvanica) and their many cultivated varieties. Their native range covers two-thirds of the continental United States, from Montana to Maine, south to Florida and Texas. Because ash trees are fast growing and adapted to growing in alkaline soils, they are widely planted throughout the United States including all the western states. It is currently unclear if native western ashes, Oregon ash (F. latifolia), native from British Columbia to southern California, and Arizona ash (F. velutina), are also susceptible to emerald ash borer and may be attacked as well.
This Asian beetle, beautifully iridescent green in color (see image at left), was discovered in Michigan in 2002. It is believed to have been imported in wooden pallets and may have been undetected for more than ten years. By 2005, the emerald ash borer had spread to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, with an isolated outbreak in Maryland. This pest continues to extend its range, now established in western Pennsylvania and most recently in Fayette County, West Virginia. While other ash boring insects seem to infect weak or dying trees, the emerald ash borer can infect large healthy trees, killing them within one to three years. This beetle can devastate an area physically and economically. One small city in Michigan removed over 2,000 dead or dying large ash trees at a cost of 2 million dollars. The economic impact of this borer will end up totaling billions of dollars.
Lifecycle of the Emerald Ash Borer
Symptoms of Emerald Ash Borer
Please remember that the new infestation sites are areas along major interstate highways and it is believed that illegal transporting of ash firewood is the major cause of these new outbreaks. People are giving emerald ash borer larvae a free ride to new unaffected areas inside firewood. The best way to slow down the rapid spread of emerald ash borer is to leave your firewood at home.
- More Emerald Ash Borer information:
- For more information about other plant pests and how to control them:
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Last Updated March 31, 2008 4:44 PM
URL = http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/EmeraldAshBorer.html