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Invasive ash borer beetles wreak havoc on tree population

by Brianna Bush - Executive editor
Fri, Dec 13th 2019 10:00 am
The state of New York has set up a mass amount of traps around the state to prevent the emerald ash beetle from wiping out the ash tree population.
The state of New York has set up a mass amount of traps around the state to prevent the emerald ash beetle from wiping out the ash tree population.

In Southeastern parts of Michigan in 2002, bright green insects were found scavenging ash trees in the area. This Asia native bug, the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB), is somewhat harmless as an adult — feeding on the leaves and the tree’s exterior — it’s the larvae that cause concern for ash trees.

While adult EAB feed on the leaves and the exterior of ash trees, the larvae burrow their way into the middle parts of the trees which hold the nutrients and essential parts that transfer water. When the EAB larvae continuously feed on the trees, it causes them to become sickly and eventually will not be receive enough nutrients to survive — the beetles effectively destroy the trees from the inside out.

According to aphis.usda.gov, EAB had most likely arrived on wood shipments from Asia and has since spread to at least 35 of the 50 U.S. states as well as some districts in Canada. It is believed that EAB spread through the U.S. because of the mass amounts of wood that is transferred around the country.

EAB lay their eggs just below the bark, in between the thick of the tree — when the larvae hatch a week later they begin to burrow their way into the tree and feed on the inner bark and phloem. The phloem is the vascular tissue of the tree that is responsible for the movement of sugars and other metabolic products throughout.

EAB larvae create “S” shaped grooves in the trees that allow them to move freely through the tree during the winter months. Come summer, the larvae are fully grown and disperse from the tree to continue the cycle.

After infestation, the ash trees usually last between two to four years before becoming rotten and eventually dying. The U.S. government is working hard to combat the invasive species before the ash trees become extinct. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) urges people not to move their firewood and other lumber around with the fear of the beetles spreading further across the United States and to other countries. 

According to ecfr.gov, in 2009 the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had placed a regulations on “firewood of all hardwood (non-coniferous) species; nursery stock, green lumber, and other material living, dead, cut or fallen, including logs, stumps, roots, branches and composted and uncomposted chips of the genus Fraxinus.”

APHIS and USDA have placed several counties under quarantine within 11 states. In 13 states, a state wide quarantine was set to help combat the threat against the trees. Many states set up purple hanging triangular boxes within their forest to help contain EAB before they get to the trees.

According to syracuse.com, in New York state alone, over 6,500 traps have been set in over 45 counties across the state. The purple triangles are meant to capture the emerging adult EABs before they can do any further damage to the ash tree population.

People can help by just observing, if you notice an ash tree that looks hollow, dead, has woodpecker holes, has split bark or has sporadic growth of branches from the whole base of the tree — people can call the toll free number for more information and to report EAB activity at 1-866-322-4512.

In order to remain on this planet and allow for it to prosper, we have to do everything in our power to reverse or at least reduce the extinction of the world’s trees. It’s only a matter of time before the effects become irreversible and the earth descends into a catastrophic downfall — in order to remain safe, we must sustain the things that we have and protect them from further harm.

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