Meet the emerald ash borer
Loveland will soon have, or may have already, a visitor no community wants.
The emerald ash borer – a tiny, metallic-green beetle that has destroyed nearly all species of ash trees in Eastern and Midwestern states – is now spreading through Front Range cities in Colorado. First discovered in Boulder six years ago, then in Longmont early last summer, its Colorado invasion will be relentless and, barring some scientific discovery we don’t yet know about, unstoppable.
Loveland and all our neighboring communities face years-long commitments to deal with the emerald ash borer and its destructive consequences. We will all get to know the bug by its initials – EAB. This webpage will provide information before, during and after EAB’s confirmed arrival in the City. Check back often for updated information that will be useful as the course of the invasion progresses. Learn what the City is doing, and what all of us can do, to combat EAB and cope with its effects.
Five first things to know about EAB:
||The beetle is a recent immigrant to North America. Native to northern China and Korea, it probably arrived aboard an ocean-going freighter concealed in wood used for packing crates. First identified near Detroit in 2002, the EAB caused more than $50 billion in losses in the Upper Midwest, mid-Atlantic and New England states and in southeastern Canada.|
||EAB kills quickly. Once the beetle lays its eggs, usually on the upper leaves of ash trees, its larvae quickly take over the tree, tunneling under the bark in ‘S’-shaped patterns, “girding” the trunk and, in effect, strangling the tree. A healthy, fully grown tree can succumb within three years.|
|Some trees can be saved – for a while. The healthiest and most valuable ash trees can be treated with injectable pesticides that the tree takes up from plugs inserted in a circular pattern at the base of the trunk. Treatment is expensive, must be applied annually.|
|EAB-infested areas are subject to a federally administered quarantine. Movement of wood debris in the aftermath of an EAB invasion is strictly prohibited. EAB arrived in Boulder, experts presume, in a load of firewood brought to Colorado from an EAB-infested region well east of us.|
Removal of ash trees, and replacement with other tree species, is the best practice. Early removal of ash trees that are the least healthy and have the least aesthetic value, even prior to confirmed presence of EAB, is the best advice.
“Is that tree in my back yard an ash?”
Look for these distinctive features to help determine if your tree is an ash:
Ash leaves grow in compound clusters with five to 11 leaflets each.
The bark on mature ash trees has a distinctive raised diamond pattern. Juvenile ash trees have fairly smooth bark.
Ash tree branches grow in pairs that oppose one another.
"Is my tree infested with EAB?"
Two or more of these symptoms could indicate an infestation:
Dieback of upper and outer limbs results when the tree cannot send nutrients to those branches due to the damage caused by the EAB.
|Increased woodpecker activity:
EAB larvae under the tree bark attract woodpeckers who feed on them.
|'D'-shaped exit holes:
Adult insects that emerge from behind the bark leave a distinctive D-shaped whole that measures about 1/8 of an inch in diameter.
Presence of adult insect:
This video, produced by the Colorado State University Extension Plant Diagnostic Clinic, demonstrates how property owners should inspect their ash trees for the presence of EAB
How is the City preparing for the arrival of the EAB?
The City of Loveland has assembled an interdepartmental team to plan for the invasion of this destructive beetle.
Their initial tasks include:
• Taking an accurate inventory of Loveland’s ash trees.
• Deciding which trees should go now, and which ones might be candidates for long-term, life-saving treatments.
• Planning for ways to deal with huge volumes of trunks, limbs and branches in compliance with a strict quarantine on movement of debris.
• Educating the public on the consequences of the EAB invasion and providing resources on treatment choices.
• Preparing for safety hazards presented by trees that become dry, brittle and unstable as they succumb to the infestation.
• Collaborating with private tree service operators who will be an integral part of the response to this environmental epidemic.
For more information on the emerald ash borer, read the March, 2017 City Update by clicking Here.
EAB photos: Bugwood.org.