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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: Red Clay

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