Why you need to know about the Emerald Ash Borer

wiseGEEK Writing Contest

The adult ash borer is an emerald green11/2 inch slender beetle that attacks and bores into ash trees usually killing them. To date, 20 million trees have been destroyed.

The ash borer was first discovered in 2002 in Michigan and is purported to have come from Asia through wood pallets. They have also been sited in Ontario, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Maryland. Larvae tunnel under bark, lay eggs and create galleries that form feeding paths that eventually destroy the ash trees. Back, blue, green and white ash trees have been affected.

Ash Tree Location: Urban yards, woodlots, forests

Ash Borer Habits: Females mate multiple times and can lay 60-90 eggs that hatch in 7-10 days. Larvae chew through the bark forming feeding paths that serpentine through the tree. They feed on ash foliage along leaf margins attacking the upper trunk first. They stop feeding in fall, but over winter and pupation begins again in April and May. Larvae are white, slender and flat with brown pincers on their last abdominal segment. Adults emerge early in June and peak late in July. Beetles live 3 weeks and are present until August. Their life cycle is 1-2 years depending on the climate. They are active during the daytime in warm/sunny conditions, but seek protection from rain, winds and high temperatures in bark crevices.

Problems: They are spreading at an alarming rate destroying millions of trees. It is difficult to detect in newly infested trees as the larvae hatch and burrow under the bark. The following year D-shaped exit holes appear once the larvae develop. Feeding larvae interrupt transport of nutrients and water to trees in summer and the stress contributes to weakening of the trees. They attack and kill healthy trees and those being irrigated or fertilized. First, the foliage wilts and then branches thin. After 2-4 years, the trees are dead. The cost to cities, property owners, nursery operators, forest products and industries is millions of dollars.

How to combat: Although there is no cure, steps can be taken to prevent spreading.

Eradication-infested trees have been cut down in areas in a radius of a ½-mile. Quarantine-infested firewood is restricted from being moved to another site in some states. Insecticide/chemical treatment options are available-contact local agricultural county extension offices. Ash borers can be controlled with pheromone traps or time sprays. Try planting resistant tree varieties and diversify trees. Researchers are working on the problem.

This submission was not accepted into the wiseGEEK Writing Contest because it is not a question with a complete answer.

submitted by R. A. Robison