Emerald ash borer outbreaks continue to be a problem for many Minnesota communities. The emerald ash borer is a small, iridescent green beetle whose larvae live underneath the bark of ash trees and tunnel under the surface. This tunneling causes the ash tree to weaken and die. All native ash trees in Minnesota are susceptible to emerald ash borers. These beetles have been found in 14 Minnesota counties and outbreaks can cause a multitude of problems for communities including public safety concerns, loss of tree coverage, and high maintenance and removal costs.

It is important for communities to identify any potentially infested ash trees as soon as possible because the emerald ash borer beetles kill trees within only a few years of the infestation. This causes trees to dry and become brittle, creating a hazard for pedestrians, homes, or vehicles near the dead tree. In addition, without mitigation emerald ash borer can spread quickly between trees decimating tree populations in ash-heavy areas. A delay in identification and mitigation often leads to increased infestation zones, higher removal costs, and greater tree loss.

The first step in combating infestations is to create an Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Management Plan. There are many resources available for communities to create the plan through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s GreenStep program, and the Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee. These plans include creating an inventory of ash trees in the community which can be done by city staff, consultant firms, or volunteers. Once a tree inventory has been created and any infected trees have been identified, a management plan that best fits the community can be chosen.

To mitigate the spread of emerald ash borer, there are many steps cities and communities can take, as laid out by the Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee. The first is to continue detection plans even after the first inventory is taken. This will prevent unknown spread of the beetle and will provide the community feedback on the effectiveness of the mitigation solutions. Second, communities should protect high value, healthy trees through targeted pest control measures. Lastly, the further spread of emerald ash borer should be mitigated by minimizing potential contaminations. This includes not hauling fire wood between communities unless it is MDA certified firewood, collaboration between neighboring cities and throughout Minnesota, and fulfilling mitigation responsibilities by removing and properly disposing of infected trees.

For more information on emerald ash borer, mitigation techniques, or the currently affected areas in Minnesota, follow the links below.

http://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/invasivesunit.aspx
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialanimals/eab/index.html
http://www.mnstac.org/

https://greenstep.pca.state.mn.us/

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_ash_borer#/media/File:EmeraldAshBorerdorsal.jpg