The Emerald Ash Borer ( Agrilus planipennis ) may be the end of the Ash tree as we know it. This Asian insect was first discovered in the Detroit, Michigan area in 2002. It probably arrived in the US on solid wood packing material carried in ships or airplanes originating in Asia. Since then, it has spread to Lower Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, as well as Windsor, Ontario. EAB has already killed an estimated 40 million Ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, and tens of millions more in other states in just 6 short years. In 2007 new infestations were found in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and in Toronto, believed to have been spread by infected nursery stock, firewood, and other wood products. 2008 revealed infestations in Virginia, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Of the 16 species of Ash in North America, none have been found to be resistant to the insect. With no natural defense against the insect, it is up to us to keep the insect from spreading even further, and saving the Ash tree.
The US Forest Service, APHIS, and others, conduct ongoing tests and surveys to minimize the spread of EAB, but the testing is expensive, and involves destroying Ash trees to look under the bark for EAB larvae. These organizations also attempt to regulate the artificial spread of the insect by identifying artificial pathways, educating businesses and residents, and eradicating spot infestations. All very labor intensive, time consuming, and expensive.
Businesses and homeowners can help by not moving wood from an Ash tree from local areas. Moving firewood or other wood to a location outside the local area could spread EAB unknowingly. Campers should buy firewood locally instead of transporting it from out of state areas. Businesses should purchase wood locally if possible, or if buying local is not an option, try to ensure the Ash is pest free.
Here are 5 reasons EAB may be the end of the Ash tree without we can get control of the insect, or eradicate it completely:
- EAB is the worst tree-killing pest introduced to North America since chestnut blight, having already killed millions of urban and forest trees in just 6 years
- Removing hazardous trees and planting replacements could cost local governments and homeowners $ 7 billion or more over the next 25 years
- EAB only attacks Ash trees, and no native ash species are known to be resistant
- Ash trees are naturally abundant in woodlands and extinctly planed elsewhere
- Movement of EAB infected firewood is a major cause of new infestations
To learn more about EAB, and how to identify an infestation, please visit the following sites: