Emerald ash borer infects new Twin Cities sites

2:13 PM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - The invasive pest known as the emerald ash borer (EAB) continues to decimate trees and forested areas around Minnesota and the Twin Cities.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has confirmed three new EAB infestations, one in Minneapolis, and two in St. Paul.

The Minneapolis site is in Lakewood Cemetery near the intersection of King's Highway and 38th Street.

St. Paul infestation sites are near the intersection of Lexington Parkway and Jessamine Avenue, and along Pig's Eye Lake Road east across the Mississippi River from the St. Paul Downtown Airport.

The infestations were confirmed by the MDA on January 29, 30 and 31 as agents followed up on reports by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board Forestry Department and the St. Paul City Forestry Unit.

Forestry workers were tipped off by the presence of woodpeckers that were feeding on ash trees. The trees were confirmed as EAB-infested by removing sections of bark to reveal the insects distinctive "S" shaped tunneling on the surface of the wood.

MDA Officials say finding such infested trees in the winter is far easier when the branches and trunk are exposed, compared to during the summer when the leaves can disguise the symptoms.

"The discovery of these new sites is disappointing, but it is noteworthy that all three sites remain contained within the existing metro quarantine of Ramsey and Hennepin counties," said MDA Entomologist, Mark Abrahamson. "It is also encouraging that these cities have staff with sufficient expertise to identify infestations before tree decline is evident. Based on our experience with other sites, these trees have probably been infested for three or four years."

Emerald ash borer is one of America's most destructive tree pests, having killed tens of millions of ash trees in 18 states. Its larvae kill ash trees by tunneling into the wood and feeding on the tree's nutrients. Infestation signs include one-eighth inch, D-shaped exit holes in ash tree bark and winding tunnels under the bark.

The biggest risk of spreading EAB comes from people unknowingly moving firewood or other ash products harboring larvae.

There are three easy steps Minnesotans can take to keep EAB from spreading:

  • Don't transport firewood. Buy and burn local firewood to prevent movement of EAB.
  • If you live in a quarantined county, be aware of the restrictions on movement of products such as ash trees, wood chips, and firewood. Details can be found online at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/eab
  • Watch your ash trees for infestation. If you think your ash tree is infested, contact MDA at arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or 888-545-6684 (voicemail) to report concerns.

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