Emerald Ash Borer TracksThe emerald ash borer, which is also known as the agrilus planipennis, is a common species of beetle, especially to its native regions of Eastern Russia and Asia. They are also typically found in Korea and Japan. Emerald ash borers have now made their way to the United States, due to the usage of ash wood in certain shipping materials. The borer was first discovered in America back in 2002, in the state of Michigan.

Since then, the emerald ash borer has made its way around the country and has been seen in several different North American regions. Once they are removed from their natural habitat, the emerald ash borer becomes far more invasive and their presence is deadly to any ash trees within its living range.

After the emerald ash borer's Michigan discovery, they began to migrate to states such as Minnesota and Ohio. The borer has even been found in such far flung locales as Ontario. The species is spreading across the North American continent, with seemingly no end in sight. This beetle has created issues for a long time, as its existence can be traced all the way back to the 1800s.

About the Emerald Ash Borers

An emerald ash borer's typical life span happens over the course of one or two years, depending on a variety of different factors. The time of year that the laying of eggs takes place, combined with temperature concerns and the overall health of the tree where the eggs are laid all combine to play a role in an emerald ash borer's life span.

The adult emerald ash borer has an appearance that splits the difference between green and metallic. They are roughly eight millimeters long and 1.5 millimeters wide. Their upper abdomens have a
distinct hue that combines copper and red. Once the eggs are laid, it takes hundreds of days before adult emerald ash borers emerge from the trees where they were conceived.

Once the adult emerald ash borers emerge from the trees where they began their 400 to 500 day gestation period, they feed upon the leaves of the ash tree and begin to mate. This does not cause extreme defoliation to the ash tree.

Emerald ash borers have a wide range of natural predators. The woodpecker has recently discovered the viability of the borer as a source of sustenance and adult wasps are particularly cruel to the borer. In order to consume an emerald ash borer, an adult parasitic wasp will inject their eggs into the borer's larvae, at which point they develop and then eat their way out.

Due to the prevalence of the emerald ash borer in certain regions and their ability to decimate any large contingent of ash trees with their invasive tactics, the US Forest Service has begun to release these wasps in hopes of taming the emerald ash borer population.

Habitat and Feeding Habits

Adult female emerald ash borers usually live for roughly six weeks and lay dozens of eggs in the process. Those who survive at the lower end of the life expectancy spectrum lay anywhere between 40 and 70 eggs, while the female borers who live a longer life can lay as many as 200.

When the female produces her eggs, they are laid within all of the tiniest nooks and crannies within the ash tree. There are all sorts of crevices inside of the bark, in addition to cracks and flakes that the emerald ash borer utilizes during the laying of their eggs. The eggs are minuscule in size, measuring anywhere from half of a millimeter to one full millimeter.

Upon initial inspection, the eggs are white in appearance, but when they become fertile, they take on an appearance that is more of a reddish brown. Once the larvae have hatched, they begin to chew through the bark of the tree, which is extremely harmful to its long term health.

After chewing through the bark, the emerald ash borer then makes it way to the cambium and phloem. At this time, they begin to develop into adults and feed. During the fall season, the mature larvae build chambers for themselves within the tree's outer bark and/or sapwood, where they begin to fold themselves into a shape that has been compared to the letter J.

Once they have folded into the J shape, the larvae become shorter, turning into prepupae. From there, they turn into pupae. By spring time, they are full-fledged adults and are ready to make their exit from the tree.

The telltale sign that the emerald ash borer has exited the tree is the exit wound, which is usually shaped like the letter D. They make their exodus from the chambers where they develop by gnawing holes in the outer bark. If a larvae has not reached optimal maturity levels, then they may winter for a longer period, remaining within the tree for an additional summer before making their first appearance.

Damage Caused To Trees

Ash trees sustain serious damage from emerald ash borer infestations. This damage is primarily caused by the feeding of larvae. Trees do not receive the same level of nutrition and water during the larvae's feeding process, which can cause an ash tree to girdle. There is a major difference between the affect an emerald ash borer outbreak can have when it has been removed from its natural habitat.

The emerald ash borer becomes far more invasive when it has had a chance to migrate. In its native areas, the borer does not attack the ash trees, only bothering their development and health in sporadic patterns. Their density does not tend to reach levels that would be fatal to the ash tree population.

However, once the emerald ash borer has made their way to places where there are no natural predators to control their population, ash trees are no longer able to obtain the water and nutrients that they require for survival. In the absence of natural predators, they become far more susceptible to emerald ash borer attacks.

Once the emerald ash borer has made its presence felt within an area, all of the ash trees in the region are in danger of death. When an emerald ash borer population is not controlled by natural predators or trees that have developed a resistance to infestation, all of the ash trees will be dead within 10 years of the initial infestation.

North American ash tree species are much more susceptible to emerald ash borer outbreaks than their Asian counterparts. The emerald ash borer prefers to nest within green and black ash trees and will only move onto white ash trees after the black and green tree supply has been exhausted.

A blue ash tree may be able to survive for a longer period, due to their callouses, but they also inevitably succumb to an emerald ash borer outbreak. Since the predators that are prevalent in Asian countries do not exist in North America, their populations are able to grow unabated and will kill off entire ash tree regions if they are not regulated.

Emerald ash borers have been able to expand their influence due to firewood transportation across continents. When a shipment contains ash bark, the emerald ash borer finds new areas to spread to and increase its overall range.

Impact and Monitoring

Emerald ash borer infestation has become a serious matter. Millions of trees have already been destroyed, and the billions of ash trees in North America are in real danger. The borer kills off younger trees before they have a chance to reach their seeding age. Not only do they exterminate the trees, but their presence pollutes the ground soil, making it impossible for future ash tree generations to grow.

If the ash tree population becomes extinct, this could have dire effects on a forest's ecosystem. The overall total of invasive plants will begin to rise, while the soil receives less nutrients, and certain species that rely on the ash tree for their feedings are also effected.

Business owners are experiencing the issues that come along with these outbreaks. They are no longer able to transport certain wood products and the property value in some residential areas has been depressed due to the rising costs of damaged tree removal and the decrease in the value of the land.

These costs become the responsibility of the property owner or the primary controller of the municipality where the emerald ash borer is taking place. Shouldering the burden of dead tree removal and infected tree treatment is very costly and the numbers could reach into the billions.

In order to remain ahead of the curve, areas that have not yet experienced an emerald ash borer infestation, yet contain large populations of ash trees, must be monitored consistently. Trees are often girdled intentionally to act as a trap for the emerald ash borer.

In the fall season, while the borer is typically undergoing its gestation period within the tree, the tree is debarked so that any larvae that have made their home inside of the tree can be removed with relative ease. If an outbreak is detected, then the area undergoes a quarantine, so that the damages can be kept to a minimal amount.

With recent developments, the governments in the United States and Canada have started to utilize wasps as a means of emerald ash borer population control. Once the wasps have the opportunity, they are able to hunt the beetles, catch them and bring them back to their burrowing spots beneath the soil. As soon as the wasp eggs have hatched beneath the surface, their larvae will feed on the emerald ash borer.

Controlling Emerald Ash Borers

While wasps and woodpeckers have the ability to reduce the overall emerald ash borer population, cold temperatures can also play a role in reducing their impact. These factors are unable to stem the tide alone, however. Alliance has a treatment process to treat the emerald ash borer in an effort to save your infected trees.

When you have begun to notice a significant increase in ash tree damages and infestation on your personal property, be sure to give Alliance Pest Services a call as soon as possible. Alliance Pest Services prides themselves on providing the removal of the emerald ash borer, so that your ash tree population is no longer in danger.