Are Your Pennsylvania Ash Trees Infested With EAB? Time To Find Out

Trees are an essential part of our lives. They provide oxygen, shade, block out sound and add charming appeal to our landscapes. Unfortunately, like all other living things, there are harmful diseases and other conditions that damage them. Many of these are caused by insects such as beetles, caterpillars, mites, and aphids. One such insect is an invasive beetle that first appeared in North America in 2002 and here in western Pennsylvania in 2007. It is the emerald ash borer (EAB), and it has destroyed hundreds of trees nationwide.

The Mighty Ash Tree

Ash trees can be found just about anywhere in the Latrobe area, from our backyards to our forest trails and state parks. This beautiful, statuesque, deciduous tree provides a palette of colors in the fall, and the wood is used to make various tools, handles, baseball, and softball bats and bows. It also makes excellent firewood. As part of an entire ecosystem, any species’ death can cause a rippling effect on other living organisms. Ash trees provide shelter and are a food source for many wildlife.  The seeds of an ash tree are eaten by a variety of birds, including the wood duck, bobwhite, purple finch, pine grosbeak, and fox squirrels. Butterflies, moths, and various other species live on or around ash trees.

So What Exactly Is Emerald Ash Borer?

Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a small, exotic-looking beetle with a metallic outer green appearance. It is thought to have been brought over from Asia, where the ash trees are acclimated to their environment and accustomed to dealing with EAB. As their name suggests, this invasive insect exclusively feeds on ash trees. While the adults chew on the leaves, it is the young larvae that cause the damage. The adults lay their larvae under the bark, and the tiny insects feed beneath the surface. They feed on the most critical parts of the tree and disrupt the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients throughout. This process kills most ash trees within three to five years after infestation.

How Does Emerald Ash Borer Spread?

In today’s global world, people and products are moving around the world faster and easier than ever before. Sometimes this causes things that are unwanted to move around as well. This includes the emerald ash borer beetle. Invasive insects such as EAB can live on firewood for quite some time and are often moved around through the transporting of firewood. This is why it is important to remain vigilant when burning firewood and only use firewood that is local.

What Are the Symptoms of Emerald Ash Borer?

Canopy Thinning and Crown Dieback
Because the young larvae feed beneath the bark, the first symptom you may see is dead and thinned out branches and twigs on the upper canopy. Of course, this can be a symptom of other tree diseases, so be sure to look for other symptoms.

Bark Splits
Trees attacked by EAB have distinct S-shaped or tunnels beneath the bark. They are approximately 1/8 inch wide and packed with a mixture of sawdust and insect excrement.

Epicormic Sprouting
As EAB larvae feed, trees attempt to create callus tissue around larval galleries, which causes the bark to split vertically. You can often see the S-shaped galleries and larvae beneath the split bark.

D Shaped Exit Holes
Another symptom of EAB is the presence of D-shaped holes in the bark. When trees are stressed, they may try to grow new branches and leaves wherever possible. Stressed ash trees may have new growth at the base of the trunk or on the main branches.

Woodpecker Activity
Tissue damage caused by woodpeckers in search of larvae and pupae beneath the bark.

What Can I Do To Help Protect the Ash Trees on My Latrobe Area Landscape?

  • Know the signs of an EAB infestation and watch all ash trees on your property.
  • Only buy and burn local firewood. Invasive insects such as EAB can sit on firewood for long periods. Hauling firewood from one location to another is a common way for insects to infect other trees.
  • Do not move firewood for the same reason.
  • Because most EAB beetles attack stressed or injured trees, it’s important to continue a tree and shrub care maintenance regime. Healthy trees in Pennsylvania are better able to resist these and all other insects.
  • Contact LawnRx. We specialize in a tree and shrub care maintenance program that can help keep your trees healthy and robust, ready for any disease or insect that comes their way.

Protect Your Latrobe Area Trees and Shrubs With Tree and Shrub Care From LawnRx

The healthier the tree, the less susceptible it is to fall prone to disease or insect infestations. That’s why at LawnRx, we specialize in a Tree and Shrub Care maintenance program that can help keep your trees healthy and robust, ready to fight off infestations when necessary. Our Tree and Shrub Care Program includes fertilization for proper nourishment and both insect and disease control.

Our tree & shrub experts are licensed by the PA Department of Agriculture. They are highly knowledgeable and trained on how to identify diseases including, EAB. We can make recommendations and help you determine your best course of action moving forward. Learn more about our comprehensive tree and shrub care on our website now, call us at 724-539-1003, or request a free quote here.

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