While the Emerald Ash Borers may look beautiful with their iridescent green coloring, these pests actually pose a serious threat to trees around the world. These jewel-toned beetles are originally from Asia and are an invasive species that is nearly impossible to eliminate. These pests, commonly referred to as EAB, cause damage by laying their eggs in the bark of ash trees which results in the larvae feeding on the tree until reaching maturity - and they're a threat to your Colorado landscape.
Do you know how to protect your trees against an Emerald Ash Borer infestation?
Communities Take Action
Many communities across the United States are attempting to take preventative measures to keep these insects at bay for as long as possible. Once Emerald Ash Borers arrive, there is no getting rid of them - and that is why it is important to be proactive while there is still time.
These pests are an invasive species, which means they lack natural predators in Colorado to keep them in check. Confirmed in Colorado in 2013, ash borers are responsible for the death or decline of millions of ash trees across 30 states, and have cost the U.S. billions of dollars to treat, remove and replace ash trees.
The good news is, these pests are picky when it comes to trees - they exclusively attack ash trees. Colorado's urban forests are made up of 15% ash trees - meaning there are millions of trees in the greater Denver area at risk.
Is Your Tree an Ash Tree?
Not sure if a tree on your property might eventually be at risk of Emerald Ash Borers?
Check out these identifying characteristics of ash trees:
- Branch and bud arrangement: Branches and buds are located directly across from one another and are not staggered. (Be aware that if a branch dies, it may leave it's opposite without a match.)
- Leaves: Ash trees have compound leaves of 5-11 leaflets. If your tree has oppositely arranged branches but only 3-5 leaflets, it is likely a boxelder.
- Bark: A mature ash tree will have tight, diamond-shaped ridges. A young tree will have smooth bark.
Still not sure? - There's an app for that!
What You Can Do to Prevent Emerald Ash Borers in your Yard
You can't retroactively treat an Emerald Ash Borer infestation.
But you can take preventive measures to keep your trees protected.
Work with a tree care professional to evaluate the current health of your ash trees. They'll be able to provide a recommendation and determine if your trees are in danger. Removing an unwanted ash tree before borer damage occurs can be more cost-effective in the long run.
There are pesticide treatments that can guard your trees against pest issues, but soil drenching and tree injections will need to be applied by a tree care professional.
Here in Colorado, emerald ash borers have been identified within the greater Denver and Boulder areas. To prevent the spread of EAB, use extreme caution when transporting firewood or untreated ash wood products.
Signs of an Emerald Ash Borer Infestation
It can be difficult to identify an infestation in its early stages, so it is important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms. Some of the trademark signs of Emerald Ash Borers are small “D” shaped holes in ash trees and increased woodpecker activity as these birds feed on the EAB. In addition to these telltale signs, you should keep an eye out for thinning canopy and bark splitting as well. If you do suspect that these beetles have taken up residence in your trees, call a professional as soon as possible.
How To Handle An Emerald Ash Borer Infestation
Treatments can be utilized to extend the life of your tree, however, if the infestation is already advanced, the best option may be to take the tree down. As these pests eat away at the internal tissue of the tree, it will lose its structural stability. Removal of the tree may be a safer option to avoid branch breakage and other similar issues.
Although it may be disappointing to lose a tree, there are still many uses for it. You can recycle your tree into lumber, landscaping materials, or even firewood. Just be sure not to transport these materials to other locations as that will only further the spread of EAB.
If you are facing an EAB infestation, a professional tree care expert will be able to provide you with the most informed recommendations on how to react and prevent other trees in your landscape from damage.
If you want to take steps to protect your trees from Emerald Ash Borer damage or the other insects and environmental factors that can damage your trees, like cold industry, soil conditions, improper planting, ash bark beetles, or lilac ash borers, the tree care experts at American Turf & Tree Care are ready to help!