Of all the tree destroying insects in Michigan, there is one that is familiar to nearly all gardeners and homeowners; the emerald ash borer. The emerald ash borer was first detected in Canton, Michigan, in 2002, and since then, it has caused the deaths of over 30 million ash trees in southwestern Michigan and has decimated the ash population in The United States. Since it’s detection, the emerald ash borer has spread across twenty-five states and killed more than fifty million trees. To combat the spread of this destructive insect, many states have placed a ban on the transportation of firewood.
Identifying The Emerald Ash Borer
Emerald ash borer adults are very small, metallic green beetles. Emerald ash borer beetles are very hard to see because they are about the size of a grain of rice. The larvae are even harder to spot because they dig beneath the bark’s surface, where they cause lethal damage to the tree. The only way to tell for sure that the emerald ash borer is present is when the tree begins to exhibit signs, including yellowing of leaves, defoliation, and bark loss. But by this time, it is already too late for the tree.
Adult beetles emerge from ash trees in May through mid-July. The adults are most active during warm and sunny days. They feed on the foliage on the tree, but this causes little harm to the tree itself. After mating, female beetles will lay between 60 and 90 eggs, one at a time, in the cracks and folds of ash tree bark. Typical females can live around three to six weeks and lay 40 to 70 eggs.
Eggs hatch about two weeks later. After hatching, larvae chew through the bark to the inner sensitive workings of the plant, creating long serpentine galleries that disrupt the tree’s ability to send water and nutrients up to the canopy.
After one or two years of feeding under the bark, larvae will create a room for themselves in the tree’s wood. They overwinter in this chamber and pupate in the spring, turning into adults. The new adult beetles emerge from the tree, and the cycle starts all over again.
The Threat to Ash Trees
Because the emerald ash borer is an invasive species not native to our area, there are no predators to keep them in check. Instead, these vicious insects are free to spread across the country, killing millions of ash trees in their wake. After a forest becomes infested, it is expected to lose all of its trees within ten years. Every one of the 8.1 billion ash trees in North America is at risk of being wiped out by these destructive pests. If control measures aren’t put into place, the ash tree could become extinct in North America in the near future.
Unfortunately, control and eradication of the emerald ash borer are not possible. Current programs focus on controlling the movement of the insect to new areas and research into long-term control measures. Currently, the only sure way to control the spread of the insect is to prevent the transport of contaminated firewood and the removal of infected trees.
Your Tree Removal Service
Unfortunately, once an ash tree is infested, there is little chance of saving the tree. The best thing you can do is remove the tree and destroy the wood before the insects can spread to other trees.
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