Emerald ash borer still a ways off from North DakotaThe emerald ash borer threat may be moving into new parts of Minnesota but currently hasn’t been detected in North Dakota. This invasive species is capable of wiping out entire populations of ash trees in a few years. It was first noticed in Michigan in 2001 and since then has spread to 15 different states.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
The emerald ash borer threat may be moving into new parts of Minnesota but currently hasn’t been detected in North Dakota.
This invasive species is capable of wiping out entire populations of ash trees in a few years. It was first noticed in Michigan in 2001 and since then has spread to 15 different states.
“There are some people that have gone around and said we have it here already,” said Vern Quam, Jamestown forester. “We do not have it here. It has not been found.”
The tiny metallic beetle can fit on a fingernail. Late in July it was detected in Shoreview, Minn., about 10 miles west from the last known infestation.
It is the fourth Twin Cities-area community to be infested, along with Minneapolis, St. Paul and Falcon Heights.
In the Twin Cities region the borer likely spread by flight, Quam said. EAB can fly 1 to 2 miles in a day.
When it arrives in North Dakota it will be brought here most likely in firewood.
“I can safely say that we have not heard anything, especially in Jamestown,” Quam said. “But it it’s one of those things — it’s not if it’s going to come, it’s when.”
When that day does come, Jamestown is in trouble. An estimated 30 percent of the trees in the city are green ash along streets and boulevards — that comes to about 3,200 trees. When figuring in trees in yards and along rivers, that number is closer to 13,000 trees. Quam called that a conservative estimate.
Jamestown and other North Dakota cities are watching for EAB with traps.
Several large, sticky, purple traps are up in and around Jamestown in wooded areas, rest stops and campgrounds.
Quam said the traps use a pheromone to lure the pest. Even though the bait isn’t exactly perfect, it has yielded results in other states.
“It’s the best they got so far,” he said. “They’re trying to hone in on a pheromone.”
The traps are empty here, but detecting the pest in trees can sometimes take years.
EAB enters through the top of trees and over a period of years works its way down before it exits the bark in a small D-shaped hole.
Quam and Lance Brower, NDSU Extension agent, have already been going up in a cherry picker to inspect the tops of some local ash trees.
“We have not found it yet,” Quam said. “We have found other pests but they are not that significant.”
The cost to the city and homeowners when EAB arrives is going to be significant.
Brower conducted an economic-impact study and assuming it would cost between $200 and $800 to remove an infested tree — the total impact to the city would be more than $8 million.
“That’s strictly taking the trees down — that’s it,” Brower said.
Brower and Quam believe education and awareness is vital to indentifying the problem early when it does arrive.
Last year they held a first detector class that trained community members in different tree diseases and pests like EAB.
Dan Buchanan took the course and last year found a potential threat while birding.
“I was looking for birds and I saw the tree,” Buchanan said. “I may not have known the birds I was looking at, but I knew the symptoms I was looking at.”
He noticed D-shaped holes at the base of the trunk, multiple sprouts along the base, woodpecker holes and what looked like sawdust on the ground.
The tree was taken down and studied. It didn’t contain EAB, though, but a less dangerous borer.
Other first detectors like Tom Olson and Dorothy Chouinard took the course to gain information on various tree diseases. Another class will be offered this fall.
Paul Stuart, who also took the class, saw what type of damage diseases can do to trees, and he wants to keep the ash trees in North Dakota.
“I think it’s on it’s way,” Stuart said of EAB. “It can’t be too much farther down the line.”
He said the ash tree has become popular in this region and losing it would affect many people.
“We should do everything we can to try and save them and the best way is to stop it before it gets started,” Stuart said.
Information on EAB is available at the NDSU Extension office as well as the city forester’s office. People with interest in the First Detector class or concerns about EAB can also contact Quam at 252-5900 or Brower at 252-9030.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com