It’s not here yet but…

Minot Forestry Department making preliminary plans if emerald ash borer arrives

These ash trees in Minot’s Roosevelt Park are among a large number of ash trees in the city. The emerald ash borer is not in North Dakota but if it is detected in the state, ash trees would be threatened by the beetle. Eloise Ogden/MDN

The emerald ash borer, a beetle responsible for the destruction of millions of ash trees in many states, has not reached North Dakota.

Brian Johnson, Minot city forester, said the closest emerald ash borer has been found is in Canada. The nearest area in Canada where the emerald ash borer has been found is in Winnipeg.

Native to Asia, experts figure the emerald ash borer likely arrived in the U.S. hidden in wood- packing materials.

Charles Elhard, plant protection officer with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture in Fargo, said the first emerald ash borer was found in Michigan (in 2002). “EAB was found in Winnipeg in December of 2017 and was just found in Sioux Falls, S.D., in May of 2018,” Elhard said. He said it still does not occur in North Dakota.

He said the N.D. Department of Agriculture along with the N.D. Forest Service are currently in the process of placing more than 250 purple prism monitoring traps across the state at high risk sites such as campgrounds, rest areas and state parks.

Johnson, also president of the North Dakota Urban and Community Forestry Association, has attended a number of classes about the emerald ash borer. The association holds annual conferences with sessions including on the emerald ash borer.

He said experts are trying to determine if the bug is cold hardy and can take on winters. “It’s looking like it can. For the most part it might be a little slower (getting to North Dakota) because of our coldness,” he said.

If the emerald ash borer should get to North Dakota and the Minot area, Johnson figures in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 percent of the ash trees in the city would be impacted.

He said Minot has many ash trees because they do so well. “You can plant them just about anywhere and they’ll grow so we’ve taken advantage of that because of our climate and over the years we’ve just overplanted them,” he said.

However, the mountain ash is excluded from danger of the emerald ash borer. The mountain ash is not a true ash, Johnson said.

If the emerald ash borer reaches Minot, Johnson said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will quarantine areas and inform the Minot Forestry Department what needs to be done.

The Minot Forestry Department is planning to hold a session about the emerald ash borer this fall to let people know where it is located as of that time and what can be done to protect against it. Guy Hanley, a Minot Forestry Department seasonal employee who does insect trapping each year for the department and provides the department with information abut the trappings, will also participate in the session.

Johnson has stressed to residents: “Don’t push the panic button yet. It’s not here to my knowledge.”

He said the Forestry Department may begin removing some ash trees in the city that have been extensively cut around power lines.

“We might start taking a few of those down just so we have a head start if it (emerald ash borer) does get here so we don’t have 300, 400 trees to get done every single year. That would be just way more than we could handle,” he said.

Those who have questions about the emerald ash borer can call Johnson at the Forestry Department at 857-4178.

Some emerald ash borer facts

The emerald ash borer adult females lay their eggs on the bark of the tree. Eggs are very small (less than 1 mm) and rarely observed. Once hatched, the larvae tunnel their way into the tree where they feed beneath the bark creating serpentine galleries. Larvae are up to 1.25 inches, long, creamy white and have several bell-shaped segments. In the spring the emerald ash borer will pupate beneath the bark and emerge as an adult. The adult emerald ash borer will chew its way out of the tree creating D-shaped exit holes that are about 3-4 mm in diameter. Adult emerald ash borers are 0.3-0.53 inches long with metallic green elytra (wing coverings).

While feeding beneath the bark of the tree the larvae disrupt the flow of nutrients throughout the tree. Once infested, an ash tree can die in as little as two years.

There are insecticide treatments available however they are costly. Insecticide treatment is not recommended until emerald ash borer infestations are within 15 miles of a location, according to N.D. Department of Agriculture, N.D. Forest Service and North Dakota State University Extension.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service contracts the placement of emerald ash borer traps all across the state each year to monitor for the pest.

For more information on emerald ash borer biology and management see the NDSU Extension publication “Emerald Ash Borer Biology and Integrated Pest Management in North Dakota.” The publication is available at the NDSU Extension-Ward County office in Minot or Other NDSU Extension publications on the emerald ash borer can also be found by searching online.

What you can do to prevent the introduction and spread of the emerald ash borer:

– Watch for signs and symptoms of emerald ash borer in your ash trees. Anyone suspecting their ash trees could be infested with emerald ash borer, should contact the North Dakota Department of Agriculture at 220-0485 or 328-4765.

– Don’t transport firewood into North Dakota and encourage your friends and relatives not to bring firewood into the state.

– Source: North Dakota Department of Agriculture and NDSU Extension-Ward County