PDF | MP3 (3:10 minutes, May 21, 2015)

I have received many calls from many homeowners that past two years whom are concerned about Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Emerald Ash Borer has not yet been confirmed in any northeast Missouri counties.

EAB was first identified in southeast Michigan in 2002. It most likely traveled in ash wood used for stabilizing cargo in ships or for packing consumer products. Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is an exotic, invasive, wood-boring insect that infests and kills native North American ash trees, both in forests and landscape plantings. Just like the Dutch elm disease that killed native American elm trees, emerald ash borer is capable of eliminating all ash trees from our forests and cities. This makes it one of the most serious environmental threats now facing North American forests.

It is expected that EAB will diminish ash trees in Missouri's forests to a very low level. Although ash trees account for just three percent of Missouri’s native forest, the fast-growing shade tree is popular for landscaping. On average, about 14 percent of trees lining streets in urban settings are ash. In some neighborhoods and parks, the figure reaches as high as 30 or 40 percent. Once EAB has infested an area, standing dead trees will be a serious threat to public safety and the cost of removing dead trees will be very high for both homeowners and communities alike.

The adult beetle is dark metallic green, bullet-shaped and about 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. The body is narrow and elon­gated, and the head is flat with black eyes. EAB larvae are white and flat, have distinctive bell shaped segments and can grow up to 1 1/4 inches long. There are many other green insects that look similar to the adult EAB. Adult females lay their eggs on the bark of ash trees. When the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow under the bark and eat the living tissue, cutting off the life-giving channels that carry nutrients, like water and sugars, to the tree. After 2 to 4 years, enough of the channels are cut off that the tree starves to death.

While most native borers kill only severely weakened trees, EAB can also kill healthy trees, making it especially devastating.

Dying Ash trees are not always an indication of EAB. Ash trees are affected by several diseases and insects. Ash trees throughout the state may exhibit dying branches and/or decline and some may show signs of heavy woodpecker dam­age. This may or may not be due to EAB. Signs to look for are 1/8 inch diameter D-shaped holes in the bark where the beetles have exited and short (3-5 inches) vertical splits in the bark that reveal S-shaped “trails” (tunnels) under the bark.

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