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Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week

Posted on May 18, 2015

As time has gone on our country has developed holidays to commemorate our presidents, honor veterans that have served or been lost at war, recognize the tireless efforts of civil rights leaders, and many more. In many cases however, these holidays don’t recognize all the important issues or ongoing causes that continually shape our culture, health, and environment. In response to this, many awareness days, weeks and even months have been established. While this upcoming Monday marks a major holiday, this week marks a special cause: Emerald Ash Borer Awareness.

David Cappaert, Michigan State University

Photo Credit: David Cappaert, Michigan State University.

Declared by many states in the country, Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week has been established to bring the attention of the public to the ongoing infestation of native ash (Fraxinus) trees by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)(Agrilus planipennis). EAB is an invasive pest that was introduced to the United States (Michigan to be exact) in 2002 from Asia. Since its introduction, it has spread hundreds of miles reaching over 25 states and was first found in New York in the nearby town of Randolph in 2009.

MultiState_EABpos (3)

Map Credit: USDA APHIS

Beginning life in the larval form, EAB munches away at the conductive tissues of an ash tree. As it matures and pupates, it bores out of the bark forming “D” shaped exit holes and will fly to nearby ash trees. The adults will eat the leaves of the tree and mate on them, lay their eggs in the bark and start the process all over again. An interesting fact about Emerald Ash Borers, is that the adults are good fliers but will generally only fly about a half mile to find another tree to pester. So that begs the question, how is it that these invasive bugs have traveled so far across the country?

Emerald Ash Borer Crown die-off copy

Notice the healthy trees with full foliage around this sparse looking ash tree in the center of the photo. This tree is dying due to an emerald ash borer infestation.

The answer is movement through human activity such as firewood transport. This is why there are now strict laws on moving firewood, and it truly is for good reason, not just because the government wants to spoil our campfire plans. If these mean, green, munching machines are brought to a new location, they can quickly devastate any species of ash within just a couple of years. This is a serious issue to raise awareness about because not only do ash trees line the roads of many municipalities, they also provide habitat for a number of species within the surrounding forests.

As the week progresses we will share more information about Emerald Ash Borer, how to be on the lookout for it and what can be done to slow the spread of this hungry pest. Stay tuned!

Elyse Henshaw
Conservation Technician