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Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer and the Firewood Quarantine

The emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle, has killed more than 50 million trees in the northern United States. It has been discovered in Bollinger, Madison, Platte, Pulaski, Reynolds, and Wayne County, Missouri, and this has resulted in a federal and state quarantines in Bollinger, Carter, Clay, Iron, Madison, Platte, Pulaski, Reynolds, Shannon and Wayne County on the movement of any part of an ash tree, ash nursery stock, and all hardwood firewood. Although the emerald ash borer has not been found in state parks, the quarantine affects Sam A. Baker, Johnson's Shut-Ins, Lake Wappapello, Taum Sauk Mountain, Watkins Mill and Weston Bend state parks.

The quarantine on ash wood products, including all hardwood firewood, is an effort to help prevent the spread of this beetle and protect Missouri's forests. The following information will answer some of the questions you may have and provide ways that you can help.

What is the emerald ash borer (EAB) and why is it a problem?

The emerald ash borer is an exotic beetle whose native range is eastern Russian, northern China, Japan and Korea. It was first identified in southeast Michigan in 2002. It likely arrived in solid wood packaging material that originated from Asia. Its larvae feed on and kill ash trees.

Where is it now?

In addition to Missouri, it has infested Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and parts of Canada. A current map on EAB distribution in the United States can be found at extension.missouri.edu/emeraldashborer/quarantines.aspx.

Emerald Ash Borer in Missouri

Where and when was EAB found in Missouri?

On July 23, 2008, an employee with U.S. Department of Agriculture’ Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) collected seven suspected EAB specimens from a purple prism trap placed in the campground at the Wappapello Lake Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) Greenville Recreational Area in Wayne County, Missouri. The trap was placed at this location as part of the EAB National Survey, which targets high risk sites for EAB trapping in 48 states. Those seven beetles were confirmed to be EAB on July 25, 2008, by U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Has EAB been found anywhere else in Missouri?

Emerald ash borers have been discovered in Bollinger, Madison, Platte, Pulaski, Reynolds, and Wayne County, and this has resulted in a federal and state quarantines in Bollinger, Carter, Clay, Iron, Madison, Platte, Pulaski, Reynolds, Shannon and Wayne County.

What is being done about EAB at the ACOE site?

Efforts began immediately to determine the extent of the infestation at the ACOE Greenville Recreation Area through on the ground visual surveys. Once the area of infestation was identified, actions began to contain this exotic pest. All infected ash trees in the immediate area will be removed. 

Response in Missouri is being guided by the Missouri Emerald Ash Borer Action Plan, which was completed by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and other state, federal, and private partners. Taking a proactive approach through education and public awareness will greatly help prevent the spread of EAB in Missouri.

Is the area where EAB was found under quarantine?

On Aug. 8, 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a federal quarantine for Wayne County. This quarantine restricted the movement of ash wood, ash products and hardwood firewood for Wayne County. A state quarantine for Wayne County was issued on Aug. 28, 2008, with subsequent quarantines issued for Bollinger, Carter, Clay, Iron, Madison, Platte, Pulaski, Reynolds, and Shannon counties.

A national plan, coordinated by USDA-APHIS, guides what federal, state and local officials must do to manage this insect. That plan requires that infested areas are quarantined, which means that selected materials such as firewood from deciduous trees, ash nursery stock, and ash logs may not be moved out of infested areas.

Violators of the quarantine are subject to federal and state penalties, including fines.   

What is being done about EAB in the rest of the state?

Annual surveys to detect the arrival of EAB are conducted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Forest Service at selected state parks, public and commercial campgrounds, and high-risk urban sites. These efforts include visual surveys as well as the use of purple prism-shaped traps and trap trees. These traps were placed throughout many state parks in Missouri.  These trapping efforts are part of a national effort to monitor and limit the spread and impact of EAB.

How important are ash trees to Missouri?

Information from community tree inventories indicates that overall, ash trees comprise about 14 percent of street trees in Missouri communities and over 21 percent of trees in urban parks. The percentages rise to well over 30 percent in some parks and residential subdivisions. In natural forest stands, ash trees comprise about 3 percent of total trees.

What Can I Do?

Educating yourself about the beetle and its potential impacts is an important start in any effort. 

What does the emerald ash borer look like?

The adult beetle is dark metallic green, bullet-shaped, and about one-half inch long (7 to 13 mm) and 1/8 inch (3 mm) wide. While the back of the insect is an iridescent, metallic green, the underside is a bright, emerald green. The body is narrow and elongated, and the head is flat. The eyes are kidney shaped and usually black. The EAB larva is white and flat, has distinctive bell-shaped segments and can grow up to 1.2 inches (30 mm) long. Go to http://extension.missouri.edu/emeraldashborer/looklike.aspx.

Why is EAB a problem and how does it harm trees?

The larval stage of EAB feeds under the bark of trees, cutting off the flow of water and nutrients. Branches of heavily infested trees will begin to die, usually near the top of the crown and progressing downward. The bark may crack directly over larval galleries. Adult beetles chew characteristic “D”-shaped exit holes as they leave former feeding sites below the bark. Infested trees gradually die over a two-to-four- year period. Over time, it can kill entire forests of ash trees.

Which trees are susceptible?

All sizes and even very healthy ash trees can be killed. All of Missouri's native ash trees (green, white, blue and pumpkin ash), as well as many horticultural cultivars (cultivated varieties of ash or hybrids between species of ash), are susceptible to EAB infestation. Research studies are ongoing to test for resistance in various cultivars with the hope that some may survive an infestation.

If my ash trees are dying, does that mean they are infected with emerald ash borer?

Ash trees are affected by several diseases and insects. Ash trees throughout the state exhibit dying branches and/or decline and some may show signs of heavy woodpecker damage.  This may or may not be due to the emerald ash borer. Positive identification of the insect is required to document its presence by sending a specimen in a crushproof container to the state entomologists. Specimens should be clearly labeled with contact information and details on where the specimen was collected (i.e. host tree type and where on tree it was collected). More information and images of the emerald ash borer can be found at http://www.emeraldashborer.info/files/E2944.pdf.

Is there anything I can do now to protect the ash trees in my yard from EAB?

Keeping trees vigorous and healthy by proper pruning, mulching, watering and avoiding wounding helps them resist insect attacks. No insecticides are 100 percent effective against emerald ash borer attacks. Not bringing firewood from other states is one of the best ways to avoid bringing home unwanted tree pests.

If I have ash in my woods, should I be doing anything?

At this time, you need not change your scheduled timber management activities

Is ash still a viable choice when considering what to plant in my yard?

In general, having a diversity of tree species in your yard, on your street or in your community is your best defense against all tree health problems. Plant no more than 10 percent of any one tree species in your yard. Because of the severe nature of the EAB threat, the wisest choice at this time is not to plant any ash trees.

What can I do to help?

The best way to protect Missouri’s forests is to follow all guidelines established by the federal and state quarantine regarding the movement of firewood. You can also educate yourself on how to recognize signs and symptoms of EAB. A good source of information may be found at http://extension.missouri.edu/emeraldashborer/firewood.aspx.

To report possible sightings, visit http://extension.missouri.edu/scripts/eab/forestpestsreport.asp.