Jessica Walliser
January 31, 2013

Emerald ash borers, Asian native insects, are damaging ash trees across the U.S. Their damage is indicated by small D-shaped holes in the bark. Photo by Jessica Walliser (
Photo by Jessica Walliser
Small D-shaped holes found in the bark of ash trees are a clear indication of an infestation of emerald ash borer. After pupation, the adults create the holes as they emerge from the tree’s interior.

The havoc created by a little green insect known as the emerald ash borer is very evident these days here in western Pennsylvania. Tree after tree is meeting its end because of this imported pest, and the ash trees on our property are no exception. We have lost three ash trees over the past few years. An enormous specimen was removed from the middle of the backyard several years ago, and now two more in our back woods are dead.

Neighbors have removed dead or dying trees from their pastures and yards in hopes of preventing them from falling on their houses and barns. Many local municipalities are treating ash trees with pesticides to help stop the spread of this insect. I’m not sure if it’s working because everywhere I go in my own little town, dead or dying ash trees are there. It is so sad.

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The emerald ash borer, an Asian native, was first found in the U.S. in 2002 and has since spread to more than a dozen states. We have already lost millions of trees with millions more in decline. If you live in a state where emerald ash borers are present, there is little you can do to keep these insects at bay, except to have an arborist come and treat your own ash trees with a chemical insecticide. And you should always refrain from moving firewood, or importing it from other areas, as the insects can travel via the wood.

To learn more about the state of the emerald ash borer where you live, you can talk to the folks at the Extension Service of your local land-grant university or visit the USDA’s APHIS website.

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