The emerald ash borer beetle is a beautiful specimen.
For those who collect and pin bugs that might be enough.
For the rest of us, however, they can have a serious impact on our yards. they’re a dangerous, invasive pest throughout a large portion of the United States.
While a beetle which kills trees at an accelerated rate sounds like something out of a science fiction movie… they’re here and they’re very real.
Read on to find out what you need to know about the emerald ash borer and the damage it can cause to your trees.
What is the Emerald Ash Borer?
The emerald ash borer is a small jewel beetle which is native to Asia. While it remained in that part of the world it caused no problems.
Like most invasive species it was introduced by accident. They were brought stateside in the 1990’s and since then they’ve caused a lot of damage to native ash trees.
In their native range, they’re a relatively minor pest but they’re perfectly suited for taking out the majority of American ash trees.
The beetle itself is bright green and about a third of an inch long. They’re the only species currently in North America which has a bright red abdomen when their wings are spread.
This makes them relatively easy to identify. Unfortunately, much of the damage which results from the infestation of the emerald ash borer is already done by the time the adults are detected in any significant amount.
As larva, they devour the inner bark of trees before going through the stages to become an adult. This can kill immature trees, often several years early.
While this might just seem mildly irritating to gardeners, the repercussions are much worse than you might suspect at first glance.
What Kind of Environmental Damage Do They Cause?
The emerald ash borer threatens nearly every native Ash tree in North America.
The current estimates are that the beetles have killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in the areas that they have infested.
The larvae of the beetle can rapidly kill trees by destroying the inside of the tree. By interrupting the process through which the trees can move water and nutrients through themselves they kill ash trees which encounter too many of the beetles.
Ash is a valuable commodity and the ash borer threatens them.
Many counties have had their wood quarantined but the spread of these parasitic beetles seems to continue unabated. In many instances, it seems to have been aided by humans.
The beetles themselves emerge and mate in a relatively short amount of time. They then lay their eggs in the bark of ash trees.
Once hatched, the larva begins to eat their way inside the tree. While smaller infestations would be more of a nuisance than anything they seem to thrive in North American climates and are able to breed in numbers which are fatal more often than not.
It’s not exaggerating to say that, unchecked, these small beetles could spell the end of the entire array of North American ash trees.
What Can Be Done About an Infestation?
In many cases, the only option is for the destruction of the tree.
Caught in earlier stages, however, there are some things which can be done.
Ash borer disease is fairly easy to catch early on. The crown of the tree will begin to die and the leaves get sparse.
Perhaps the most recognizable sign is the D-shaped holes which are left by the beetles as they emerge fully grown from the tree.
The best treatments are preventative. If you have any ash trees on your property then you may be at risk and a professional service can treat your trees to prevent the beetles from spreading to them.
In some cases, extreme action has been taken, including the release of a few varieties of stingless, parasitic wasps which originate from the same region as the beetle. So far they’ve been shown to have minimal impact on the environment.
Depending on the area you’re in the wood may also be quarantined. These quarantines are no joke. They’re one of the only effective checks which have been made against the beetle’s spread.
If caught in the early stages then treatment is still effective enough to save the tree.
Unfortunately, if the disease has progressed too far then the only option is to remove the tree. The lack of structural integrity caused by the damage can be a danger and it’s also important to control the population.
Action must be taken quickly. The beetles have been known to kill immature trees in as little as two years.
If you suspect that your ash trees may be suffering from ash borer disease then see our pamphlet to know your options.
You may also want to seek preventative treatment if you have ash trees on your property and aren’t in an area the emerald ash borer has spread yet. It only takes a few small mistakes by humans for them to appear in a brand new area.
Handle Them Today
If you’re worried that the emerald ash borer is encroaching on your property then it’s time to take action. There’s not a whole lot of time once they’ve begun their destructive process.
Our services can handle preventative care, early treatment, and removal of trees which are too far damaged.
There’s not a lot of time once these invasive insects have begun encroaching on your property.
Contact us to have one of our friendly experts assess the damage today.