The emerald ash borer.
As many of you know the emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive insect from Asia that has caused widespread death to ash trees starting in southeastern Michigan and spread as far south as Virginia and Missouri. For a long term strategy to control EAB the U.S. Forest Service has decided to use the insect’s natural enemies from Asia (EAB is not a major problem in its native range due to these natural enemies) to combat the destructive beetle.
Since 2004 the U.S. Forest Service has been raising two Asian species of non-stinging parasitic wasps, O. agrili and T. planipennisi . In 2007 the laboratory research on the parasitoids was completed and after an Environmental Assessment the parasitoid releases began in July of 2007. In later years the parasitoids were found established in the areas they were released.
A high quality ash tree.
The effects of the biological control agents are being evaluated by monitoring the health of ash timber within the areas they were released and areas nearby. Whether or not the biological control will be a success will remain to be seen.
In 2008, this new disease was recognized by researchers in Colorado. It is caused by a fungus, Geosmithia morbid, that is transmitted by small twig beetles. Tree mortality occurs after two to three years after infection. Confirmed populations now have been through the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and most recently Tennessee. The infected counties in Tennessee have had an emergency quarantine. The Thousand Cankers Disease spread is helped by the movement of walnut wood with the bark still on (logs, firewood, etc.). It also can spread naturally, but at a slower rate.
This is all troublesome news to us. Black walnut is the most valuable tree species in the Midwest. Many landowners have invested their money and hard work into plantations of black walnut. Researchers are currently working hard to come up with ways to save our valued trees. No solution has been found yet. The best thing to do is stay informed on the current information. Also be sure to inspect your woods regularly to see how the health of your trees are doing.
Photo: Ned Tisserat, Colorado State University
Over the last couple of years have been some hot topics in the Indiana Forests. One most commonly questioned is the Emerald Ash borer. This is a serious threat to out state’s woodlands and its Ash component.
If you don’t already know, the Emerald Ash borer is a green colored beetle what was transported here from Asia through some kind of wood packing material. Since its arrival it has infested and killed tens of millions of ash trees in Michigan alone and tens of millions more in the surrounding states including our own. It is not the beetle itself causing most of the destruction as they mainly feed on leaves, but the larvae of the insect damage or devour the water and nutrient carrying tissues of the tree eventually killing it.
Each year we are noticing more and more counties in Indiana reporting infestations. It is difficult for any one to predict a positive outcome at this point. The government agencies are doing their best to make the public aware of this problem, contain the speed, and research ways of stopping the pest.
We as a company are trying to stay up to date with these restrictions on the movement of the product, and help spread the awareness. For your sake we are still able to process ash wood in Indiana and it is still holding a decent value. However, we are now faced with certain stipulations during these times of the year. There are flight windows when the bug is able to move around and we as people can increase its spread rapidly during these times.
Our main obstacle as industry is just tracking the movement of the ash product so we can account for where it came from and help with slowing the spread. It has added some paper work on our end and more planning as to routes traveled to eliminate certain counties from trucking. As a woodland owner, outdoors men, or user of wood the most common spread is through firewood. It is recommended to get firewood out of your county. Ash has been as staple species for our state. Many products come from ash such as lumber, handles, and the famous baseball bat of our national pastime. All is uncertain at this point but we will continue our effort to stay up to date on the rules and the information about the ash borer.