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Now is the time to study up on Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer is now known to exist in Cottonwood County near Comfrey. This isn’t very far from residents in Lyon County who live in the Southeast corner of the county. For those who think they have or know that they have ash trees in their yards or in their groves, now is the time to read up and study on what to look for in regard to Emerald Ash Borer.

A very good place to start is with the Minnesota Department of Ag’s website located at https://www.mda.state.mn.us/eab-info-homeowners. There are some wonderful pictures on the website along with how to identify what an ash tree looks like and what damage occurs when EAB is located within an area on trees. May 1st is the first date that EAB insects can fly and they are known to fly about ½ mile in a day.

There are things that homeowners can do to help with this situation. The first is to know if you have ash trees in your yard or on your farm. Green ash, white ash and black ash are all known varieties of ash trees that are attacked by EAB. Be careful for other plants that have the word ash in their names. These are not susceptible to EAB and some of those include Mountainash and Pricklyash.

There are trees that resemble ash trees which include boxelder, European Mountainash, Shagbark Hickory, Elm and Black Walnut. These are some common trees that homeowners will often mistake for ash trees. These trees are not affected by the EAB insect.

The website also offers a short reference for determining whether or not what we are seeing on ash trees is EAB or if it is some other insect. Adult ash bark beetles, ash cambium miner, banded ash borer, redheaded ash borer and ash/privet borer can also take on some similarities to EAB insect damage. There are several other borers as well. It is important that even if you are not sure what kind of borer is on an ash tree to call or email the Arrest the Pest hotline for assistance. arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or use the smartphone or tablet app (Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN)) app or call the Arrest the Pest phone number at 1-888-545-6684.

 Emerald Ash borer (EAB) will make ‘s’ shaped marks during the early stages of infection of an ash tree. Another telltale sign of EAB infestation are ash trees that have thin (less) leaves in the canopy or the very top of the tree line. The top of the branches will be bare or nearly bare of leaves. This is because the damage that is being caused by the borers doesn’t allow enough nutrients and water to make it to the top of the trees.

If a homeowner has an ash tree that they wish to save or treat, there are treatment options available. There are approximately 5 different insecticides that can be used. Of these 5, there are three that are easier for the homeowner to use. There is considerable cost with some of these insecticides as well. Insecticides will treat a tree and more than likely keep it safe for up to one or two years. If there is still heavy infestation in the area, treatments will be have to be repeated. If a homeowner sees more than 50% damage in the canopy, it would be more cost effective to remove the tree rather than to treat. At this point, the tree may not recover even with treatment.

Unfortunately, it may be more cost effective to remove ash trees from your property and replant with other trees. It is important that we do not keep planting the same trees over and over again. Variety is the spice of life and it would help our ecosystem greatly if several different kinds of trees were planted. If a homeowner is trying to treat a very large tree (more than 48 inches in circumference), a certified arborist should be consulted.

EAB is near and one other very important task that ALL of us can do is to make sure to not bring firewood from home into area campgrounds. Plan on using firewood that is made available at campgrounds so we are not spreading this insect throughout some of our beautiful parks.

For more information on gardening, email me at s.dejaeghere@me.com

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