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The American Ash Tree. Can it be saved from the Emerald Ash Borer or is it lost forever?
How to tell if a tree is in danger.

The American ash tree is in danger! It could even become extinct in this country. It has happened before that a tree became practically extinct, when the elm tree fell victim to Dutch Elm Disease and died out. Those green leafy bowers disappeared completely over the period of a few years, so that today the elm is as rare as a cave man on these shores.

History could very well repeat itself with the ash tree. The Emerald Ash Borer, referred to as EAB, is an insect from Asia that is attacking ash trees in the Midwest portion of the United States. EAB is a member of the metallic wood boring beetle family. It attacks all native North American ash trees, regardless of the tree's health.

Once an Emerald Ash Borer infestation occurs, it kills the tree in three to five years. In Michigan alone, more than 15 million ash trees have died or are dying. It is believed that the EAB arrived in the United States in shipping pallets or cargo from eastern Asia approximately 10 years before it was discovered here. It was first identified in the Detroit, Michigan, area in July 2002 and then in Lucas County, Ohio, in February 2003. As of this writing, October, 2006, Infestations of EAB have also been found in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland and Ontario. The popular ash tree makes up about 10% of all trees. Research into borer insecticides is ongoing, but it is possible that the ash tree may be wiped out completely.

In an attempt to control the spread of the ash borer, ash tree wood is being quarantined in 21 counties in Ohio. This means that wood from ash trees cannot be transported outside the county. The borer may be living in your woodpile, too; so, don't transport your firewood to a new location.

EAB is a slightly illusive insect because it spends the majority of its life under the bark. The larvae develop beneath the bark of ash trees and are flat, creamy white, with bell-shaped segments, and are about an inch long. The Adult EAB are dark metallic green and measure a half-inch long.

Here are the signs that may indicate the presence of the Emerald Ash Borer in your ash tree.
  1. Branch dieback at the top of the tree
  2. Vertical splits in the bark
  3. Sprouting on the trunk and at the base of the tree
  4. Scratched bark from woodpeckers feeding on the larvae
  5. Distinct 1/8 inch, D-shaped exit holes in the bark
  6. S-shaped sawdust-packed galleries under the bark
EAB is very difficult to detect until a tree has been infested for at least a year, because the larvae feed from the top of the tree first. When looking for EAB it is important to peel off the bark to look for the larvae and the galleries.

Although the ash tree has been a popular choice for planting along streets and in green spaces, cities have already halted planting of the ash and are monitoring their existing ash trees for EAB infestation. When infestation occurs, the dead tree must be removed and replaced with a different species of tree.
  • Can anything kill the emerald ash borer?
    The beetle's natural enemies, like fungi and woodpeckers, aren't enough to keep it in check. No insecticide has proven 100% effective. The only known way to destroy the pest is to destroy the tree.
  • Should I treat my ash tree with insecticides anyway?
    You can begin treating your ash tree, but there is a cost factor to consider. Regular applications of insecticide are recommended once a year, and the ash tree may still have to be taken down. Merit is one insecticide that has been partially successful in prolonging the life of the ash tree. Treatment of diseased trees is costly and will prolong the life of the tree for a few years. The cost of treatment is usually only justified when a tree has unusual symbolic value or fills an important place in the landscape.
Seeds of the ash tree are being preserved for future use in the event that an effective insecticide is eventually developed. Research has begun to identify resistant cultivars and varieties of the ash tree. Unfortunately, in the case of the elm tree, the cultivars that resisted Dutch Elm Disease lacked the shape and beauty of the American Elm and never became popular. The ash tree is truly an "endangered species".

I hope life brings you much success. I wish you a very happy day.
~ Surfer Sam

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