In this case it is green, a brilliant emerald green, and it is chomping its way through America's forests. The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, may look pretty, but it is killing our ash trees in our forests and backyards.
This is Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week (May 19-25) and the time of year when you might see adult beetles flitting about among your ash trees. It is also the time of year you may unknowingly move this pest if you pack firewood when you kick off the summer camping season.
The EAB attacks ash trees and all ash trees are at risk. First, adult females lay their eggs in the tree bark. The eggs hatch into larvae. These larvae look like creamy white, flat worms, and they chew tunnels just under the bark, cutting off the plumbing that supplies nutrients to the tree. With the tree’s water pipes shut off, the tree starves and dies in just a couple of years.
Because the larvae cause all their damage under the bark, it can be hard to tell when a tree is infested until it is too late. So it’s important to be on the lookout for some telltale signs of an EAB infestation, such as:
- Canopy dieback, usually starting at the top of the tree
- Sprouts growing from the trunk as the upper portions of the tree die
- D-shaped exit holes where the beetles chewed their way out of the tree
- Vertical bark splits that expose the larvae’s tunnels
It can be tempting to turn that dying tree into firewood to make use of the dead wood—go ahead, but keep it local. It is important not to move this firewood around since pests still living in the wood can be brought to new areas and infest a whole new neighborhood. Before you know it, these pests can be hitching rides all over the country via your road-trip. The emerald ash borer beetle, detected in 19 states, has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees so far. The estimated cost of treating, removing, and replacing 37.9 million ash trees in urban and residential settings in 25 states is $25 billion.
Stop EAB in its tracks, Don’t Move Firewood.