Emerald ash borer infestation
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|Emerald ash borer|
Outside its native region (Asia and Eastern Russia ), the emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis is an invasive species, highly destructive to ash trees in its introduced range. The potential damage of this insect rivals that of Chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease. Since its accidental introduction into the United States and Canada in the 1990s and its subsequent detection in 2002, it has spread to 14 states and adjacent parts of Canada. It has killed at least 50 to 100 million ash trees so far and threatens to kill most of the 8.7 billion ash trees throughout North America. The emerald ash borer is now one of the most destructive non-native insects in the United States; it and other wood-boring pests cause an estimated $3.5 billion in annual damages in the U.S.
The insect threatens the entire North American Fraxinus genus, unlike past invasive tree pests in North America, which have only threatened a single species within a genus. The green ash and the black ash trees are preferred. White ash is also killed rapidly, but usually only after green and black ash trees are eliminated. Blue ash displays some resistance to the emerald ash borer by forming callous tissue around EAB galleries; however, usually they are eventually killed also.
Invasiveness and spread
Without factors that would normally suppress EAB populations in its native range (e.g., resistant trees, predators, and parasitoid wasps), EAB populations can quickly rise to damaging levels. All North American ash species show susceptibility to EAB as North American species planted in China also show high mortality due to EAB infestation, but some Chinese species show resistance. Green ash and the black ash trees are preferred by EAB. White ash is also killed rapidly, but usually only after green and black ash trees are eliminated. Blue ash displays some resistance to the emerald ash borer by forming callous tissue around EAB galleries; however, usually they are also eventually killed. Upon the arrival of EAB in North America, many of the specialized predators and parasitoids that suppressed its populations in Asia were not present in North America. Predators and parasitoids native to North America do not sufficiently suppress EAB, so populations continue to grow and kill nearly 100% of ash trees in an area approximately 10 years after introduction. EAB populations can spread 20 km a year.  However, it primarily spreads long-distance by transport of firewood and other wood products that contain ash bark, which allows EAB to spread to new areas to create satellite populations outside of the main infestation and quickly increase its range.
Other factors can limit spread. Climate research suggests that EAB growth may be stemmed in areas too cold for the beetle to survive. North American predators and parasitoids can cause high EAB mortality occasionally, but generally offer limited control. Mortality due to woodpeckers is variable, and parasitism by parasitoids such as Atanycolus cappaerti can be high, but overall parasitism is generally low.
Spread over time
The natural range of the emerald ash borer is eastern Russia, northern China, Japan, and Korea. Its first confirmed North American detection was in June 2002 in Canton, Michigan. It is suspected, that it was introduced by overseas shipping materials.  It has since been found in several other parts of the North America. Ohio, Minnesota, and Ontario have experienced emerald ash borer migration from Michigan, and has continued to spread across the continent.  Authorities across the US are continuing to determine the exact extent of EAB by placing purple traps nationwide.
Environmental and economic impacts
EAB threatens the entire North American Fraxinus genus. It has killed at tens of millions of ash trees so far and threatens to kill most of the 8.7 billion ash trees throughout North America. Emerald ash borer kills young trees several years before reaching their seeding age of 10 years. Field studies of the first Michigan forests first infested with EAB showed that the borer had killed off >99% of all living Fraxinus. Forest floor samples of these same plots resulted in ground soils void of seeds which could be capable of germinating continued generations. The loss of ash from an ecosystem can result in increased numbers of invasive plants, changes in soil nutrients, and effects on species that feed on ash.
Damage and efforts to control the spread of EAB have affected businesses that sell ash trees or wood products, property owners, and local or state governments. Quaratines can limit the transport of ash trees and products. Economic impacts are especially high for urban and residential areas due to treatment or removal costs and decreased land value from dying trees. Costs for managing these trees can fall upon homeowners or local municipalities. For municipalities, removing large numbers of dead or infested trees at once is costly, so slowing down the rate at which trees die through removing known infested trees and treating trees with insecticides can allow local governments more time to plan, remove, and replace trees that would eventually die. This strategy saves money as it would cost $10.7 billion in urban areas of 25 states between 2009-2019, while removing and replacing all ash trees in these same areas at once would cost $25 billion.  Some urban areas such as Minneapolis, Minnesota, have large amounts of ash with slightly more than 20% of their urban forest as ash.
Monitoring and Management
In areas where EAB has not yet been detected, surveys are used to monitor for new infestations. Visual surveys are used to find ash trees displaying symptoms of EAB damage and colored traps attractive to EAB are hung in trees as part of a monitoring program. Sometimes trees are also girdled to act as a trap tree by attracting egg-laying female EAB in the spring and debarking the trees in the fall to search for larvae. If detected, the area is typically placed under a quarantine to prevent infested wood material from causing new infestations. Further control measures are then taken within the area to slow population growth by reducing EAB numbers, preventing them from reaching reproductive maturity and dispersing, and reducing the abundance of ash trees.
Government agencies in both the USA and Canada have utilized a native species of wasp, Cerceris fumipennis, as a means of detecting areas to which EAB has spread. The females of these wasps hunt beetles in the same family as EAB and, therefore, will hunt EAB if it is present. The wasps stun the beetles and carry them back to their burrows in the ground where they are stored until the wasps’ eggs hatch and the wasp larvae feed on the beetles. Volunteers catch the wasps as they return to their burrows carrying the beetles to determine whether any of the catch consists of EAB. If it does, the agencies running the program know that proper quarantine measure must be instituted. This methodology is known as biological surveillance, as opposed to biological control, because it does not appear that the wasps have a significant negative impact on EAB populations.
Tree removal and replacement
In urban areas, trees are often removed once an infestation is found to reduce EAB population densities and the likelihood of further spread. Urban ash are typically replaced with non-ash species such as maple, oak, or linden to limit food sources for EAB. In rural areas, trees can be harvested for lumber or firewood to reduce ash stand density, but quarantines may apply, especially in areas where the material could be infested.
Insecticides are typically only recommended in urban areas or high value trees near an infestation. Insecticides with active ingredients such as imidacloprid, emamectin benzoate, and dinotefuran are currently recommended since they are systemic (i.e., incorporated into the tree) and remain effective for one to three years depending on the product. Ash trees are primarily treated by direct injection into the tree or soil drench. Some insecticides cannot be applied by homeowners and must be applied by licensed applicators canInitially, tree injections will not compromise tree health, but over many years drilling and chemical wounds will compromise the tree's health. Damage from EAB can continue to increase over time even with insecticide applications. Insecticide treatments are not feasible for large forested areas outside of urban areas.
The native range of EAB in Asia was surveyed for parasitoid species that parasitize EAB and do not attack other insect species in the hope they would surpress EAB populations when released in North America. Three species imported from China are currently approved by the USDA for release: Spathius agrili, Tetrastichus planipennisi, and Oobius agrili. All three species have been documented parasitizing EAB larvae one year after release indicating they survived the winter.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Emerald ash borer.|
|Wikispecies has information related to: Agrilus planipennis|
- United States Department of Agriculture Public Awareness Campaign
- Emerald Ash Borer Most Frequently Asked Questions - A site dedicated to answering the most frequently asked Emerald Ash Borer/Treatment Questions
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency
- Multinational EAB website - US states and Canadian provinces
- "Emerald ash borer". United States Department of Agriculture.
- Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation & Development Council - Ash Utilization Options Project - developing value-added products from ash trees affected by the emerald ash borer
- Emerald ash borer Indiana Information
- Indiana based EAB Research and Treatment Organization
- Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources page on EAB
- USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station link to research on EAB
- Ohio Department of Agriculture infestation PDF map
- Wisconsin's Emerald Ash Borer Information Source
- Minnesota releases Stingless wasps to fight against emerald ash borer
- Species Profile- Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), National Invasive Species Information Center, United States National Agricultural Library. Lists general information and resources for Emerald Ash Borer.
- The short film Emerald Ash Borer: The Green Menace is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]