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03/19/18- Emerald Ash Borer

By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

Turkey Season 2018 is underway here in Alabama. The woods are alive with the sounds of gobbling turkeys and hunters are setting their alarms in hopes of a victory. The woods are also full of something else…purple box traps hanging from ash trees. After seeing quite a few hanging along Highway 41, it was time to do a little research.

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB to make life simpler) is an invasive pest that is responsible for the damage and destruction of millions of ash trees across the United States. It is believed to have arrived in the U.S. from Asia on a cargo ship tucked inside some wooden building materials. The pest was first identified in Michigan circa 2002. Much like our other pesky friend the Southern Pine Beetle, the EAB makes its way into ash trees that have suffered some sort of environmental stress and is unusually weak. Once inside the tree, the EAB lays eggs and the juvenile EABs begin feeding on the inside of the tree (sound familiar????). As they grow and mature, the EABs excavate the inside of the tree and overwinter in chambers they create. The bug will then emerge out of the tree as an adult and fly around the crown of the tree. As they flutter about, they munch on the leaves of the ash trees, causing them to wilt and dieback during the summer months. The greatest problem of all: the damage isn’t noticeable at first and it takes about 3 years before EAB damage begins to really show. By the time it is known that the tree is infested, it is too late Some signs of EAB damage are multiple branches grown on the trunk of the tree (epicormics branching), yellowish or wilted leaves, and splitting bark. Much like Southern Pine Beetle damage, Ash tree damage is most concentrated in areas that have experienced a drought and the trees have been extremely stressed. So why the purple ornaments? Those are Emerald Ash Borer traps that APHIS has implemented. The intent is to conduct a survey of EABs in the area. The traps themselves are covered in glue like material, so once the EAB flies into it during a feeding frenzy, that’s all she wrote! Crews will be collecting the trapped individuals in the summer and once again in the fall. Meanwhile, it is recommended to not relocate firewood, as the EABs can be transported from area to area in infested wood.

It is important that we do all we can, as stewards of the land, to protect our natural forest from invasive species. Whether it is Emerald Ash Borers or Privet, species that are not native to our area can wreak havoc on our ecosystem and cause acres and acres of destruction. The best way to protect ash trees from EABs is to be proactive and begin spraying healthy trees with insecticide before they fall victim to the flying nemesis.

By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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