Healthy ash trees can add character to a neighborhood, provide shelter to birds, prevent erosion and, when planted in just the right spot, help reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home. Ash trees are also used to make baseball bats, office furniture, tool handles, electric guitars and even drums. But these trees are under attack. The culprit? The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) – an insect that’s destroyed 40 million ash trees in Michigan alone and tens of millions throughout other states and Canada.
What It Looks Like
This bright metallic-green insect can be smaller than a dime but is capable of taking down trees hundreds of times its size. Adults are typically 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. Eggs are extremely small – approximately 1/25 of an inch – and are reddish-brown in color. Larvae are white, flat-headed borers, or grubs, with distinct segmentation.
The Threat It Poses
Adults emerge in mid- to late-May, earlier if the weather is warm, with females laying their eggs shortly after. The larvae bore into the ash tree and feed under the bark, leaving tracks visible underneath the bark. The feeding disrupts the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, resulting in dieback and bark splitting. Small trees can die in as quickly as one to two years, while larger infested trees may die in three to four years. Emerging adults create D-shaped emergence holes in the tree.
The negative effects of EAB infestation don’t end with the death of the tree. Often, tree services must be hired to remove the dead tree, which can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
The following states are under quarantine for EAB: Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Parts of Canada are also under quarantine.
How You Can Help
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), residents should do the following to help manage this pest:
- Call the USDA Emerald Ash Borer Hotline at 1-866-322-4512 or your local USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) office if you think you’ve found an EAB infestation. Record the area where you found the insect, and take photos of the insect and any damage. Find contact information for your local APHIS office at the USDA’s Stop the Beetle campaign website, stopthebeetle.info.
- Don’t move firewood from your property or carry it across state lines.
- Buy firewood from local sources and burn it where you buy it.
- Buy kiln-dried firewood.
- Before spring, burn your remaining firewood supply to eliminate the chance of EAB spreading to live trees.
Learn more at stopthebeetle.info.
Treating Your Trees
Protect your trees against Emerald Ash Borer with a systemic insecticide applied to the soil at the base of the tree.
Products that kill or prevent this pest (liquid formulations only)
Image 5449380: Debbie Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Image 1460032: James W. Smith, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org