Digging in; Emerald ash borer arrival ‘just a matter of time’

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The emerald ash borer seems to be surrounding Mower County. The ash tree-destroying insect has been discovered to the west in Martin County. It already had been found in southeastern Minnesota.

The tree-killing insect has not been discovered in Mower County, but Austin Parks and Recreation director Kim Underwood says it’s only a matter of time.

“Some have already been spotted on Highway 63 leading into Rochester,” Underwood said.

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According to Underwood, an Austin tree inventory was done in 2011. At the time of the inventory, 17 percent of trees on public property in Austin were ash trees.

Emerald ash borers will leave a D-shaped exit. Photos by Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The city has since removed sickly ash trees on public land as a preventative measure should the emerald ash borer come to Mower County. Underwood said that private companies can do treatments for ash trees on private property.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture  has placed Martin County under an emergency quarantine after emerald ash borer  was found northeast of the city of Welcome, according to a news release from the agency. A United States Department of Agriculture trap captured several insects in the area.

This is the first time the tree-killing insect has been identified in Martin County, so the state enacted an emergency quarantine to limit the movement of firewood and ash material out of the county to reduce the risk of further spreading. Fifteen other Minnesota counties are under full or partial quarantine to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer.

All of Iowa is quarantined since 2014 by its Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

A car is framed between two green ash trees along Eighth Street Southeast Tuesday afternoon. The green ash tree is the most susecptible to the emerald ash borer. Photos by Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“Since the nearest EAB infestation we know of in Minnesota or Iowa is several counties away, we can be certain that emerald ash borer was brought to Martin County by someone moving infested ash,” said Kimberly Thielen Cremers, supervisor of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Pest Mitigation and Biocontrol Unit. “The only way to protect Minnesota’s ash trees is to stop moving firewood and other ash products around the state.”

Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk. The invasive insect was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009 and is now found in 30 states.

Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by EAB. The state has approximately one billion ash trees, the most of any state in the nation.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture asks that Minnesotans:

•Don’t transport firewood. Buy firewood locally from approved vendors, and burn it where you buy it;

•Be aware of the quarantine restrictions. If you live in a quarantined county, be aware of the restrictions on movement of products such as ash trees, wood chips, and firewood; and,

•Watch your ash trees for infestation. If you think your ash tree is infested, go to www.mda.state.mn.us/eab and use the “Do I Have Emerald Ash Borer?” guide. Suspect infestations can be reported to MDA’s Arrest the Pest line at 1-888-545-6684 or arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us.