Beetle Mania

English: Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipenni...The emerald ash borer has officially arrived in New Hampshire. The larva of this bright metallic green insect has killed millions of ash trees across the country since being spotted in Michigan in 2002. The insect hails from China and it wiped out Michigan ash trees before moving south into other states. Officials knew it was just a matter of time before it would invade New Hampshire.

My son and his family are the owners of a wooded property surrounding their new home in Ohio. Visiting them this summer, he sadly pointed out the ash trees that were either dead or in deep decline from the emerald ash borer. These trees didn’t stand a chance against the invader and last weekend he removed 11 ash trees.

Two years ago at my daughter’s home in Portsmouth NH, I noticed several ash trees with declining canopies on neighboring properties and I told her she should check them for signs of borers. I don’t believe any signs of the borer were evident to her and the trees may have been stressed from other causes, perhaps a previous drought. They were so stressed that in a recent windstorm, one tree fell across the fence into her yard… now a rental property they own.

Ash Tree in Portsmouth NHShe says I must wait for the final verdict from the tree experts to learn what caused the ash to fall. Or if I’m pushy enough, she might let me visit and examine the bark myself.

Sadly, the ash is such a staple of urban life found in landscapes and lining city streets. They are beautiful and majestic trees that replaced the elm trees after Dutch Elm Disease wiped them out. The adult borer eats only the leaves of the ash but the female lays from 60 – 90 eggs in crevices on the bark. The larvae live beneath the bark for about two years before adulthood, becoming pupae in the inner bark the final winter… where a multitude of larvae and pupae interfere with the transport of water and nutrients to the tree’s canopy. In the spring, the insects chew their way out and the cycle repeats.

It’s just beginning in New Hampshire and precautions are being taken. Quarantines on firewood is the first step. Click here to learn about ash trees and exciting new biological steps being taken to find an enemy of the borer. Chemicals have become more effective in treating early infestations in larger trees, applied either by companies or the homeowners.

12-11-2013 Update:  The Emerald Ash Borer has now been detected in the town of North Andover MA. Click on the blog IPM of New Hampshire  for more information.