Emerald ash borer and the future of the Minnesota woods

March 5, 2009 at 12:56 pm 1 comment

By Steve Katovich, US Forest Service, St Paul, with contributions from Mike Reichenbach, University of Minnesota Extension

Ash mortality from EAB, Ann Arbor MI. Steve Katovich photo.

Ash mortality from EAB, Ann Arbor MI. Steve Katovich photo from forestryimages.org. Click for original.

In 2002, a small emerald green beetle native to Asia was found killing ash trees in the Detroit area.  The beetle was given the common name “emerald ash borer” or EAB for short. It had apparently arrived on infested pallet wood or crating material, perhaps as far back as the early 1990’s.  The infestation spread undetected for 10 years.  Surveys in 2002 quickly confirmed a massive infestation with almost every ash tree in the Detroit metro area affected.

An ash tree in Ely brightens the local landscape in September. Steve Katovich photo.

An ash tree in Ely brightens the local landscape in September. Steve Katovich photo.

Since then, EAB populations have been found in 10 states and 2 Canadian provinces.  Of greatest concern is the transport of infested firewood from Illinois, north of Milwaukee, and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  By transporting firewood, visitors from these areas could very easily initiate EAB outbreaks here in Minnesota.  Beetles could also arrive on an infested nursery trees or perhaps in logs arriving at a mill.

EAB is a tremendous tree killer, and Minnesota woods include a huge ash component in both rural and urban forests.  In fact, EAB is proving to be such an efficient killer that it seems likely that few ash trees will populate our landscape in the future.

PA DCNR photo from forestryimages.org. Click for original.

PA DCNR photo from forestryimages.org. Click for original.

At this time, the best strategy is to delay EAB’s arrival as long as possible. Given enough time, researchers may yet uncover some key tools that will even out the battle between the insect and ash trees.  Homeowners can help.  Firewood should be obtained and burned locally.  It is not a good practice to transport firewood long distances.  Even within Minnesota it would be prudent to avoid transporting firewood from the Twin Cities to a cabin or campground. The Michigan experience has shown a number of state wide campgrounds were infested with EAB, as a result of firewood transport.

Despite our best efforts, EAB will eventually arrive in Minnesota.  It would be best if any new introductions were found early.  Everyone is encouraged to report unusual ash tree mortality.  Extensive woodpecker activity on ash trees can be a sign that EAB larvae are active under the bark.  This is most easily observed in the late winter when bark flakes cover the snow and the stripped bark stands out against a white background.

Photo by Howard Russell from forestryimages.org. Click for original.

Photo by Howard Russell from forestryimages.org. Click for original.

Minnesota landowners with ash do not need to panic. It will likely be years before EAB begins to impact Minnesota forests.  But, it might be wise to rethink long term management plans for stands that have an extensive ash component. Rather than waiting for EAB to arrive, some early stand intervention could reduce the risk of extensive tree mortality. The insect attacks both healthy and weak trees, there’s little that can be done to create resilient stands.  Landowners can take advantage of management actions planned in their woodland to harvest trees before the insect reaches Minnesota.  After the insect is in MN quarantines may make it difficult to transport harvested logs.

Get involved!
Consider enrolling as an EAB First Detector.  Trainings are coming up throughout Minnesota this spring. Details on upcoming trainings are on our class calendar and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s EAB website.

Three great sources of EAB information are http://emeraldashborer.info and the MDA website, and an excellent guide for what to do if you see EAB.

If you think you may have EAB on your property or in your woodpile, immediately contact the Arrest the Pest hotline: 651-201-6684 in the Metro Area or 888-545-6684 in Greater Minnesota.  You can also email Arrest.The.Pest@state.mn.us.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: forest health. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Silviculture and Carbon in the Cloquet Woods National Timber Tax webinar rescheduled for March 13

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. bob nobis  |  April 9, 2009 at 8:00 am

    the recent news coverage regarding the recent discovery of EAB at our door step sure was lacking. I hope some of our professionals can convince the media to provide some detailed and interesting presentations to educate the public and possibly slow down the assault. thanx

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


About this blog

News and information of interest to Minnesota woodland owners. Sister site to MyMinnesotaWoods.org.

In the news...


%d bloggers like this: