Who knew tiny insects could destroy mighty shade trees? If you don’t believe it, you should see the emerald ash borer in action. This minuscule green invader from Asia has rapidly worked its way through ash forests in Ontario and the Upper Midwest states. First noticed in 2002 in Canada, entomologists and forestry scientists believe that emerald ash borers were present on the continent for decades prior to their discovery.
While Colorado hosts no natural ash forests, this attractive species of tree graces many landscapes here by our choice. Will these new enemies of our shaded open space wreak havoc here as well? Here’s what you need to know about the emerald ash borer.
What are Emerald Ash Borers?
The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a small, metallic green beetle about a 1/2-inch long. Their primary food source are ash tree leaves. The females lay eggs in the cracks of the bark. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow into the sapwood cambium layer which channels sugar and nutrients throughout the tree. The destruction of this layer usually starts at the top of the tree and works down the trunk, eventually killing the tree. Once matured, the beetle chews out of the bark, leaving a small D-shaped hole.
Are They Decimating Colorado Ash Trees?
According to the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network, EABs now infest trees in two Canadian provinces and 31 states, including Colorado. An outbreak was detected in Boulder County in September of 2013. The federal Department of Agriculture and the state of Colorado established the county as an EAB quarantined area. While adult male ash borers fly only about a half a mile, females can fly farther, even up to 20 miles. This means containment may well be impossible. However, you can take steps to foil the voracious ash borer in the Denver metro area.
How Can You Help Stop the Ash Borers in Colorado?
Here’s what you can do:
- Identify your trees. Remember, mountain ash trees aren’t true ash, so you won’t need to worry about them. If you aren’t sure if any of your trees are ash, call The Natural Way. We can tell you what types of trees you have.
- Decide whether to treat or remove your ash varieties. While healthy ash trees respond well to treatment with specialized insecticides, they will require annual applications for the rest of the tree’s lifecycle. If you have already started a treatment program, be sure the product used isn’t just for the lilac/ash borer, which may prove ineffective against emerald ash borers.
- Provide the best nutrition program to maintain healthy, resistant trees.
- Do not accept imported firewood. The experts tracking the EAB path of expansion believe that the spread often occurs, in part, from the transportation of firewood from infested forests.
By educating yourself and making wise decisions about your ash trees, you can do your part to prevent widespread devastation from emerald ash borers. At The Natural Way, we’re here for all your lawn care needs. Sign up to our email list or ask questions on our Facebook page to learn more about this topic and how to protect your trees!