Q: The emerald ash borer, an invasive species, is now in Minnesota. How will this insect impact Minnesota trees?
A: Unlike the gypsy moth, which defoliates trees but does not necessarily kill them, the emerald ash borer is capable of killing healthy ash trees all by themselves. That makes them potentially much more damaging than the gypsy moth. The emerald ash borer is capable of killing all species of ash within three to four years of attack. The insect can also affect ash down to one inch in diameter within any Minnesota forest type. Ash trees were planted in abundance throughout the state after Dutch elm disease took out so many mature elm trees. Those trees are now at risk of attack, and local communities face a potential crisis in tree protection, removal and replacement. Public funds are inadequate to address the issue. However, people can help by buying local or certified firewood when camping; burning it all before leaving their camp site; and checking with firewood suppliers when buying wood for use at home to make sure the wood is certified as pest free. To report any suspected invasive pest, take a picture, note the location where it was found, and contact the local DNR, Department of Agriculture or University of Minnesota Extension agent office.
- Susan Burks, DNR Forestry Invasive Species Program coordinator