Emerald ash borer has been confirmed in the Kansas City area, bringing the beetle one step closer to Nebraska.
The Missouri Departments of Agriculture and Conservation and the USDA recently announced that emerald ash borer had been confirmed near Parkville, Mo., about 7 miles northwest of Kansas City. This confirmation puts EAB fewer than 100 miles from Nebraska.
"The recent confirmation means we need to take this pest seriously, even though there have not been confirmed findings in Nebraska," says Mark Harrell, Nebraska Forest Service forest health program leader. "Identifying our trees at risk here in Nebraska is critical, and informing the public, community leaders and decision makers about the risk to those ash trees and preparing for the arrival of this very serious pest is now much more urgent."
Experts estimate EAB has killed more than 50 million ash trees since it was first detected in Michigan in 2002. In the U.S., EAB is present in Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Virginia. In Canada, EAB has been confirmed in Ontario and Quebec.
EAB is a non-native, or invasive, insect that attacks and kills all native ash species, including white, green, black and autumn purple. The beetle kills ash trees by disrupting their ability to transport water and nutrients.
EAB larvae, which are cream-colored and approximately 1-1/4 inches long, feed on the tissues just below the bark, creating winding tunnels. This feeding disrupts the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients, and eventually kills the tree.
Adult insects, which are metallic green and about 1/2-inch long, emerge in June and July, leaving D-shaped exit holes in the tree's bark.
Symptoms of EAB include canopy dieback that typically begins in the top one-third of the canopy, sprouting from the base of the tree, bark splitting, winding galleries below the bark, D-shaped exit holes and increased woodpecker activity.
~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~EAB is most commonly spread through the transport of infested firewood. For this reason, citizens are urged to buy local firewood at their campsites and burn all their wood on site.
"The beetle is frequently introduced to a new area when the larvae or adults hitch a ride on infested firewood, and in some cases on a vehicle itself during June and July when adults are active," says Harrell. "The 100 miles from Parkville, Mo., to Nebraska is really just a short drive."
In Nebraska, there are an estimated 1 million ash trees in towns and cities, and in some Nebraska communities, 20 to 40% of the total tree resource is ash. There are an additional 43 million ash trees in forests and conservation plantings. When EAB arrives in Nebraska, all of these trees will be at risk and most likely will be killed by the beetle over time.
"Green ash has been one of the most popular landscape and conservation trees planted in Nebraska for the past several decades and is a major component of our natural and planted tree resources," says Harrell. "Encouraging species diversity in our tree plantings reduces the problem that any one pest like EAB can cause."
Though treatment options are available, Harrell says treatment is not recommended unless EAB has been confirmed within 15 miles of the area. Most treatments must be applied by professionals, are expensive in some cases and are only effective applied either before or during the early stages of attack.
A list of treatments available in Nebraska for EAB is available online at http://nfs.unl.edu/EABtreatments.pdf.
In Nebraska, state and federal agencies and organizations are preparing for EAB's arrival. The Nebraska Forest Service is working with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nebraska Arborists Association, Nebraska Nursery and Landscape Association and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Entomology Extension and Department of Agronomy and Horticulture as part of the Nebraska Emerald Ash Borer Working Group.
The group developed an EAB statewide response plan and annually organizes events and activities to provide information to the public about EAB. The Nebraska Forest Service has presented information about EAB at workshops and trade shows, trained 120 professionals and tree enthusiasts across the state as Tree Pest Detectors to help with detection efforts for EAB, and developed and distributed more than 3,000 EAB detection kits to professionals and the public through workshops and civic organizations.
For more information about identifying ash trees and EAB, visit Nebraska Forest Service (nfs.unl.edu) or Emerald Ash Borer (emeraldashborer.info).