EAB’s Path of Destruction Continues to Widen

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By Rich Christianson

The Emerald ash borer (EAB), the shiny green beetle with an insatiable appetite for ash trees that jump-started the urban wood movement, continues its deadly march across North America.

According to the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network, a website maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, EAB is now found in 35 states and five Canadian provinces. When we last checked in March 2018 – see map below – EAB had been detected in 31 states and two provinces.

Added to the list of state’s with EAB detections within the last 18 months are Maine, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. The provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are also new to the map that is periodically updated by the Forest Service.

Florida and Mississippi are the only states east of the Mississippi that have yet to have any reports of EAB infestations. However, Florida, along with Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming have state EAB information available, according to the EAB Information Network.

According to the EAB Information Network, EAB “was originally discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia.”

The network also notes that EAB is blamed for killing hundreds of millions of ash trees in U.S., private and urban forests. The USDA has attempted to enforce quarantines of infested areas to halt or at the very least slow the spread of EAB.

The Associated Press published an article on Oct. 7 noting that removal of trees felled by the EAB will cost Nebraskans more than $1 billion over the next few decades. “(B)ut local governments probably won’t be able to afford the cost and it’s not clear how much help they’ll get from the state.”

Missouri is another state grappling with EAB infestation. According to a Nov. 6 report in the Springfield News-Leader, the exotic beetle has been found in 16 new counties, bringing the total to 75 counties throughout the state. The article notes that the city of Springfield budgeted $75,000 for its EAB response. That money was used for insecticides to protect some ash trees and to remove others either in poor condition or poor location.