Stop the Beetle

The USDA has a website with information on Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorn Beetle, two devastating wood boring beetles. The media library has videos that explain how EAB was brought to North America, the damage it causes, how to search for it in your neighborhood and how to report it.

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has killed millions of ash trees already. All North American ash trees are susceptible and mortality is 100 percent. It is likely that the spread of the EAB will change the composition of our forests. Already, many cities in Indiana are responding by replacing small ash trees with other species. Removing a large ash tree can cost over $1000 if it is near a structure. Diversifying plantings and removing smaller trees near structures can save on future removal costs.

EAB is not a large beetle, but large numbers can live under the bark of a single tree. The beetle larvae tunnel under the bark, feeding on and destroying the vascular system of the tree. The larvae eventually girdle the tree and cut off the flow of water and nutrients to the top of the tree above the feeding site. Eventually the beetles will kill the tree. There are some pesticides that can save valuable trees but the pesticide must be injected into the tree and the treatment is expensive.

Currently, the USDA has quarantined movement of wood products in areas that are infested with EAB in an attempt to slow its spread. Left on its own, the beetle can spread up to 30 miles per year. However, movement of firewood and other wood products spread the beetle thousands of miles in less than a decade. You can help by not moving firewood and spreading the word about EAB to people you know.

EAB is one of several invasive wood boring insects that are causing large economic and ecological damage in the US. The EAB is a native of eastern Asia and was most likely transported to the US in solid wood packing materials. When ships travel to the US, the spaces in the cargo holds are filled with scrap wood. There are regulations requiring that the scrap wood be first treated to kill insects, but that does not always happen. The EAB probably traveled to the US in a container ship in scrap wood. When the ship was unloaded in the US, the scrap wood was discarded and the beetle flew off to start killing ash trees. Once the beetle established, attempts were made to contain and eradicate it. Those attempts were not successful because people had already moved beetle infested firewood out of the quarantined areas and spread it across much of the Eastern US. The damage from invasive species such as EAB is so large, it is worth supporting a large effort to prevent invasive species from coming to the US.
EAB tunnels from dead ash tree

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Environment, Invasive Species, Pest Management, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Stop the Beetle

  1. Niki says:

    This is clearly a problem. Has Purdue already looked around campus and locally to see if we have Ash Trees that may be infected? Do you think Purdue would fund the removal/replacement if necessary?

    • kennie atkins says:

      what if you make your living selling firewood!

      • jjneal says:

        Go to this page and click on the FAQ. It will explain the quarantine. You can also discuss with your state regulator.

        Click to access emerald_ash_borer_faqs.pdf

        It depends on the quarantine area. If you are within an area, you cannot move wood out of that area. USDA does have permits and compliance options. Those often increase costs of doing business but that is better than fines.

        The idea is to slow down the spread in hopes of developing an effective control. If no new control comes along, its kiss your ash goodbye. All the ash will be gone and the quarantine will go away. By the time all the invasive forest pest are done, you might be harvesting Asian Bush Honeysuckle to sell as firewood.

  2. jjneallwi says:

    The infestation in Tippecanoe County is located near the border with Carroll County (Delphi). There is a large ash tree just outside my office in Smith Hall. We are keeping an eye on it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Do you think Purdue would fund the problems resolution if there were an infestation on campus?

  4. jjneallwi says:

    Purdue removes and plants new trees on a routine basis. I am not certain what they would decide. Probably it would depend on the size of the tree and location as to whether or not to treat.

  5. Pingback: End of the Road | Living With Insects Blog

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  7. I love Stop the Beetle | Living With Insects Blog
    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the
    little changes which will make the most important changes.
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Pam says:

    Just found one in my kitchen. Live in Souteast La. Had lots of trees died lately. Hope I don’t see another one. Quite ugly now.

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