Originally from Asia, emerald ash borer (EAB for short) was said to have arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes in 2002. Since then this invasive little pest has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in the north eastern U.S. and Canada. Luckily this pest only attacks ash trees. Emerald Ash borer was identified in Ohio in 2003 in the Toledo area. Since then the EAB has been found through the entire state of Ohio. By my observations, it has been most recently identified in the Stow, Shaker Heights, and Parma areas. The adult beetle can only fly up to about a half mile from where it emerges but due to humans transporting firewood and nursery stock it has spread very rapidly in just 10 years.
The adult beetle doesn’t do much harm to the ash tree itself, it is actually the larvae feeding below the bark that harms the tree. The adults begin emerging mid-May and peak emergence is in late June. The females will then begin laying eggs about 2 weeks after emerging. The eggs will hatch within 2 weeks. That is when the larvae bore into the cambium layer, which is right under the bark and carries the trees nutrients. The larvae will feed there for several weeks, eventually reaching a size of about an inch to an inch and a quarter. The larvae will then overwinter in the tree until spring when pupation occurs and the life cycle begins again.
Some signs that your tree may be infested is a thinning canopy. The thinning occurs above where the infestation is. Due to the fact the larvae have eaten the conducting tissues of the tree. In some cases, the tree can have as much as one half of the branches die out in the first year and be completely dead in two years. Another sign is woodpecker boring holes. You can very rarely detect the emergence hole of the actual beetle but the woodpecker boring holes are very evident even from the ground.
Unfortunately this beetle will infest all ash trees in our area. It is inevitable based on the beetles history. The best thing we all can do to help is monitor our ash trees for signs and symptoms. Also buy and sell your firewood locally. The entire state is under quarantine, so technically you can move ash materials with in the state. But why help the pest spread.
The best way to protect your ash trees is to treat them before they are infested. Generally by the time you see signs the tree is infested it’s too late. As a rule of thumb if more than 50 percent of the canopy is dead or dying back it’s too late. There are many resources online to find out more on EAB. If you aren’t sure if you have ash trees on your property, give us a call. Let us give you a free consultation.