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Updates: Emerald Ash Borer

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Friday, October 11, 2019 - 7:00am

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about updates on emerald ash borer. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr.Blake Layton, Mississippi State University Extension Entomologist. Blake, what is emerald ash borer, and why is it of concern?

Blake Layton: Well Amy, this is one of those billion dollar bugs. So this is a non-native, wood-born beetle that showed up in the country from Asia in about 2002, that's when they first started seeing it cause damage in Michigan. Since then, this little beetle has spread throughout the eastern United States, killing ash trees as it goes. So it's probably killed over hundreds of millions of ash trees now. And so far, Mississippi and Florida are the only states east of the Mississippi River where it is not known to occur. But that's going to change.

Amy Myers: And our ash trees, this is a very good tree, and we definitely don't want it to die out.

Blake Layton: That's right, yeah. This is an important species, a lot of us have ash tress in our landscape. Some land owners have ash trees on their land that they want to harvest for timber, and this beetle, it doesn't just damage them. It kills them outright. And it's a little bit unique. A lot of our insects that kill the tree, they do that with the help of carrying a disease organism into the tree as well. This beetle is able to kill ash trees by itself, without any assistance from a diseased organism. The larvae just girdle the [cambin 00:01:27] layer and kill the tree.

Amy Myers: Oh, that's awful. What tree species are effected by this pest?

Blake Layton: As the name suggests, it affects ash tree. Now, interestingly, this thing came from Asia, and the ash trees that they have over there are used to this beetle, so they're not killed by this beetle. But when it showed up here in the US, our green ash and white ash is highly susceptible to it, real easily killed. So that's the primary species that's killed.

But we also know that it can and will attack and kill white fringe tree. That's a small tree that people sometimes grow on their landscape, some people know it as "Grancy Graybeard," or "Old Man's Beard," so that's an aside. But the big deal thus far are ash trees.

Amy Myers: Okay, so when can we expect to see this pest appear in the state?

Blake Layton: That's a very good question. And the answer is we really don't know, but it could happen any time now. Because, as I said, Mississippi and Florida are the only states where it doesn't occur. However, it is in southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. Eastern Tennessee, it's in parts of Alabama. And especially in that Arkansas-Louisiana area, it's really close.

But that kind of doesn't matter, because the way this thing gets spread around the country, if somebody that had a tree that was infested and died in their yard, maybe they cut that for firewood and they just put it in the car and bring it on a camping trip, or travel with that wood in some other way. So this thing could show up anywhere in the state at any time.

Amy Myers: Okay, so what steps should be taken by citizens to protect ash trees and their landscape?

Blake Layton: Another thing about this pest is that it's a little unique in that we can't wait until we see the damage. The tree is half-dead from emerald ash borer, and then treat it, and save it. It takes about three to five years from the time a tree begins to be attacked until it's too late to save it, but they start their damage up in the top of the tree, and people don't notice that.

And so we've really got to be vigilant for that. And so what I suggest to the homeowners here right now, is that if you have an ash tree, or ash trees in your landscape, that you go ahead and start thinking about this and mark those trees. And say, "Okay, I'm willing to spend 100 dollars a year to protect that tree." That's the kind of thinking we have to do right now. And then, when we know that emerald ash borer is within 15 to 30 miles of our tree, that's when we'll start [preventively 00:03:47] treating that tree.

Amy Myers: Okay, that's with a preventive solution or chemical or something?

Blake Layton: Right. There are several different insecticides that can be used to control emerald ash borer, they're not applied as sprays, they're applied as a soil drench around the tree, only once a year. There's one product that can be injected into the trunk of the tree that will give protection for two years. And there's some other treatment options, but they're all fairly easy to apply, either by homeowners or by a certified commercial applicator.

Amy Myers: Okay. And where can we go to find more information about emerald ash borer and how to control it?

Blake Layton: Well, we have this publication called, "Protect Landscape Ash Trees from emerald ash borer," and that's available through your local country extension office, or if you want to go online and find that you can go to "extension.msstate.edu" and then to search for the publication, just type in "protect landscape ash trees" and you should find that publication. And it's got all this information in there.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Dr.Blake Layton, Extension Entomologist. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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