ANDERSON, Mo. – Emerald ash borers (EAB) do not stop at state lines. That’s why last fall’s discovery of this tree pest in northeast Oklahoma has raised the concerns of Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) foresters in the southwest corner of Missouri. People can learn more about EAB at a free MDC program at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at the New-Mac Electric Coop Meeting Room at 9 Mustang Drive in Anderson. This program will discuss the problems caused by EAB and what landowners can do to slow the spread of this destructive pest. People can register for this program by calling MDC's Joplin Office, (417) 629-3423 or by e-mailing Jon.Skinner@mdc.mo.gov.
EAB has not been found in the Anderson area, but the discovery of EAB near Grove, Ok. in October, 2016 made its eastern neighbor – Missouri’s McDonald County – an area of high concern. This tree pest has been found in 32 counties in Missouri. It was first discovered in Missouri in Wayne County at a public campground near Lake Wappapello. Missouri’s most recent EAB confirmation was earlier this month in Miller County.
EAB is a small metallic green beetle native to Asia. The approximately half-inch long insect was first discovered in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002.
EAB attacks only ash trees. The EAB life cycle takes one year to complete. Adult beetles emerge from ash trees, leaving behind small D-shaped holes. EAB females then lay eggs on the bark of ash trees in early summer. These eggs hatch into larvae that bore into the tree’s vascular layer – the zone that transports water and nutrients through the tree. The larvae feed on this vascular tissue, creating winding tunnels on the wood’s surface. Ash trees typically die from this damage in three to four years.
This tree mortality comes with a price tag for humans. Ash trees were widely planted in cities and parks decades ago after Dutch elm disease killed large elms at these sites. Now cities and homeowners in some areas are facing the expense of either treating ash trees that are at risk for EAB infestation with insecticide or removing them. Ash comprises approximately three percent of the trees in Missouri’s forests, but can be as high as 40 percent of the urban trees in some cities.
Missourians can reduce the risk of EAB spreading by not moving firewood long distances. A statewide EAB quarantine established in 2013 by the U.S. and Missouri Departments of Agriculture restricts the movement of ash trees, logs and hardwood firewood from Missouri into states not known to have EAB. While it is legal to move firewood within Missouri, officials recommend not moving it more than 50 miles from where it was cut to reduce the risk of introducing EAB and other invasive forest pests to new areas.
More information about EAB can be found at mdc.mo.gov.