Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Short Subjects: The Growing Threat of EAB

Since 2006, Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Awareness Week has been held the week before Memorial Day, with the goal of educating as many people as possible about the destructive powers of this tiny invasive pest and the ways they can help to prevent its spread. 
The beautiful, destructive adult EAB

Why this particular week? The Memorial Day weekend marks the start of Summer vacation season — when Americans are on the move — camping out, spending time in their weekend cabins, and building campfires. One of the main messages of EAB Awareness Week is : DO NOT MOVE FIREWOOD.

Although the mature EAB Agrilus planipennis beetle can fly, moving firewood has accelerated its spread. EAB’s natural range is Russia, northern China, Japan, and North Korea. It was first discovered in North America near Detroit in 2002, most likely arriving in this country in packing material. EAB has since been detected in two Canadian provinces and 19 states in the northeastern US.

In Asia, the EAB is kept in check by its native predators, three species of non-stinging parasitoid wasps. In North America it has no enemies.

One would not think that such a beautiful and minute creature could wreak such destruction. It only targets ash  Fraxinus trees. EAB is a killer in its larval stage when it feeds internally in the ash’s cambium and phloem layers, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, and leaving telltale galleries. All ashes are at risk, although green ash is the favorite. Trees under stress are the most susceptible. EAB is responsible for the loss of tens of millions of trees in SE Michigan alone, and tens of millions of others elsewhere.

On Monday of this week, the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection released the news that the Emerald Ash Borer had been detected in Hamden, a town bordering on the City of New Haven. A homeowner submitted a report and photos of EAB galleries in a dying ash to the office of the state Entomologist who then confirmed the findings. First detected in Connecticut last summer by a CT master gardener, EAB has now been found in nine towns in New Haven County. 

A quarantine regulating the movement of ash nursery stock and ash materials from within New Haven has been in effect since then.  Regulations are also in effect regulating the movement of firewood from out-of-state into Connecticut. 

I can’t say this enough. DON’T MOVE FIREWOOD.

The states and provinces where EAB has been detected have joined forces to create and maintain a website,, with the latest information about this pest.

What else can a concerned citizen do to stop the spread of this pest?

First, learn and watch for the signs of EAB infestation

If you are a homeowner with prized ashes on your property, learn about the options for protecting them. There are a variety of systemic insecticidal treatments available, but they currently require a commitment to annual application. 

Non-stinging wasps from Asia are now being raised and released in a controlled program in the hope that they will help control EAB, but it is far too early to tell.

The most important action remains. DON’T MOVE FIREWOOD. Pass it on.

Why Saturday Short Subjects? Some readers may recall  being dropped at the movie theater for the Saturday matinee — two action-packed feature films with a series of short subjects (cartoons or short movies, sometimes a serial cliffhanger) sandwiched in between. Often the short subjects were the most memorable, and enjoyable, part of the morning. That explains the name. The reason behind these particular posts is that we are all short on time. My Short Subject posts should not take me as long to write or you as long to read (or try).

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