Emerald Ash Borers: What You Should Know

emerald ash borer

Emerald ash borers (or EABs) are metallic green beetles native to eastern Asia. They were first discovered in Detroit, Michigan in 2002. These beetles may be smaller than a dime but they’re capable of massive destruction. In fact, they can take down ash trees thousands of times their size. It’s believed that they arrived in the U.S. from China on wood packing materials. Since then, they’ve spread to 21 states (including Iowa, Kansas, and Colorado). They are currently threatening to wipe out Nebraska’s 40 million ash trees. It’s become increasingly important to spread awareness on how we can maintain and control these busy beetles.

Emerald Ash Borers: What You Should Know

The Value of Ash Trees

Ash trees are among some of the most valuable and abundant trees in North America. In the United States alone, there are an estimated seven to nine billion ash trees! A number that’s truly hard to wrap your head around. Their seeds are an excellent food source for birds and mammals. They are also commercially valuable, being used for flooring, furniture, and lumber. Additionally, Native Americans use them for traditional basket making. Protecting the livelihood of these trees has quickly become a crucial job for environmentalists, rangers, and naturalists.

Emerald Ash Borer Infestation

Their emergence typically happens around mid-May. The females will lay their eggs after the infestations from the year prior. Sadly, emerald ash borers have destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in both the U.S. and Canada. They accomplish this by tunneling beneath the bark. Smaller trees can die in as little as one to two years after infestations and larger trees can take three to four. While they mostly reside in the midwestern and eastern parts of the country, they can spread fast. This makes it imperative for us to spread the word even quicker.

Some signs that emerald ash borers are present include dieback, yellowing, and browning of leaves. Significant woodpecker activity is one of the first indicators. This heavy activity will lead to strips of bark falling off. Small, D-shaped holes will be present on the trunk and branches and S-shaped larval galleries may appear under the fallen bark. They usually fly about half a mile from their emergence tree. If there’s long-distance travel, it’s usually tied to firewood or nursery stock. Because of this, there have been regulations put in place restricting the movement of firewood.

What Can We Do?

Now that we understand the impact and urgency in emerald ash borer infestation, we can get down to the nitty-gritty – what can be done about it? First and foremost, let’s really get to know the symptoms to be on the lookout for. Is the crown of the tree thinning or dying? Are there suckers at the base of the tree? Does the bark appear to be splitting? Is there tunneling under the bark? And finally, does there appear to be excessive woodpecker activity or D-shaped exit holes? If the answer is yes to these questions, it’s time to make a move.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

The USDA has an actual Emerald Ash Borer Hotline or you can call your local USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. You can take photos of the damage and record exactly where it was found and send them in via email. Another important general principle is to make sure you’re not traveling with firewood across state lines. Instead, opt to buy it locally. A great rule of thumb to remember is to burn it where you buy it.

If emerald ash borers are affecting your own tree or trees in your community, it can be important to note how many ash trees you have. Diversity can help in nearly any tree health problem. If your tree community is more than 10% ash trees, it would be a good idea to start planting other species. And finally, before spring has sprung, burn your supply of firewood to avoid any probability of borer’s spreading to live trees.

For more information on the emerald ash borer and what you can do to help, you can call your local extension service or arborist. By raising awareness, we can do our part to prevent the spread and replace these trees where necessary.

Additional Information: The Impact of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Omaha

Omaha Tree Services

At Omaha Tree, our mission is to provide tree care services & mulch products that improve the HEALTH, BEAUTY, & SAFETY of our customers’ trees. We recycle all of our wood waste material from the trees we trim and remove in the greater Omaha metro area. The wood waste material is brought back to our 8-acre site at 3606 McKinley Street, where it is processed into a beautiful & consistent mulch product that is local, fresh, and clean. Contact us today.