Emerald ash borers, a beetle larva, are a major concern in the eastern parts of the midwestern US. The beetle lays its eggs on ash trees. When the larva hatch, they burrow deeply into the wood to feed and grow. It's this burrowing and feeding that kills a tree. Once infested, trees typically die, but you may be able to save the tree if you catch the problem early enough. The following guide can help you determine if your trees have been compromised.
#1: Regularly Inspect for the Different Life Stages
Ash borers tend to complete their entire life cycle in ash trees. The iridescent green adult beetles arrive first and they begin to feed on the foliage. If it's the first time they have visited your ash tree, immediate treatment to kill the adults will break the life cycle before they can lay eggs. Otherwise, you need to look for eggs, which is the other part of the life cycle that occurs outside of the tree. Eggs appear as gelatinous flat, oval masses that are less than 1 mm in size. You can find these in bark crevices along the trunk. Once again, treat immediately so you can eradicate the pests before the larva hatch.
#2: Check Test Patches for Gallery Wood
Gallery wood is the name for the area where the larva feed. If you suspect that you may have ash borers, look for small holes in the bark where the borers chewed into the trunk. Tear off a small piece of loose bark from the trunk near some of these holes and look for gallery wood. A gallery looks as though it has small irregular wiggle lines carved into it. If you find gallery wood, then you most likely have borers feasting on your ash tree. If you caught the problem early enough, a tree service may be able to do a soil drench and eradicate the pests. Otherwise, you may need to have the tree removed if the infestation is severe.
#3: Keep An Eye Out for General Decline
As a tree begins to suffer from the infestation, other signs may appear. Bark may become deformed or begin flaking from the trunk. Often, sucker shoots come up around the base of the tree as the tree begins to try to fight for survival. You may also notice increased woodpecker activity in your ash tree, as these birds feed on the larva. Foliage die-off is also common, in part from the stress of the adults feeding on the leaves. At this point, it is likely that the tree can't be saved.
One way to avoid ash borer infestations is to have healthy trees treated prior to the beetles arriving so that they never get established on your tree. Failing that, plan to have infested trees either treated or removed immediately upon discovering the pests. Contact a tree service for more help. For more information, contact local professionals like those found at Schulhoff Tree & Lawn Care, Inc.