EAB – Chaos and Creation?

Tue. Oct. 8, 2019

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: EAB – Chaos and Creation?

 It’s an EAB update on GB, Emerald Ash Borer, the bug that will destroy the vast majority of ash trees.  Notice I said, WILL.

EAB adult and larvae

The exotic beetle from Asia, was discovered in southeastern Michigan in the summer of 2002.  And now, in 2019, it’s been discovered in 35 states and 3 Canadian provinces. EAB has killed well over 8 billion  Ash trees so far.

Canopy die back due to EAB photo by Iowa Tree Pests

White Ash, for now, is faring better than the green or black ash.   Some interesting information from the US Forest Service:  White ash is the primary commercial hardwood used in the production of baseball bats, tool handles, furniture, flooring, doors, cabinets, and other specialty products such as canoe paddles and boats.  Green ash is used for both solid wood applications (crating, boxes, and tool handles) and for fiber in the manufacture of high grade paper.  Black ash is typically used for interior furniture, cabinets, and Native Americans require this species for the art of basketry. 

Scientists are working on resistant strains, just as they have with Elm trees lost to Dutch Elm disease.

Conservation groups that work in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area are using this disaster to possibly help thwart another, climate change.  By replacing ash with other kinds of trees, as well as bushes and other plants they hope to establish a forest that is more likely to thrive in a future of higher average temperatures and much more erratic precipitation. They’re using Bur Oak and Kentucky Coffee trees, both more tolerant of higher temperatures and moist soil. 

Kentucky Coffee tree

And then there’s this: There are however, some natural predators in the United States such as wasps and bark-foraging birds that may be able to effectively prey upon EAB. One small-sample size study conducted in Ohio closely monitored woodpecker activity around a few ash trees for two years. The study discovered that the woodpeckers killed 85 percent of emerald ash borers in infested trees. In addition, woodpecker populations appeared to rise in response to an increase in EAB populations. The researchers suggested that while woodpeckers will not save a tree that has already been infested, they have the potential to save a forest and perhaps control the spread of EAB on a large scale. That’s a wait and see.

Current estimates suggest that EAB will cause $11 billion worth of damages from 2009-2019.1 

If you’re considering insecticides for a particularly nice tree, then read this:  Fact Sheet on insecticide options.