Emerald ash borer beetles have created widespread quarantines in several mid-western and southeastern states in the U.S. as well as Ontario and Quebec, Canada due to its mere existence translating into death for millions of ash trees since 2002. Named after the emerald gemstone for which it brightly resembles, this exotic beetle is anything but pretty once it completes its life cycle and leaves its host, the ash tree, mortally wounded and left for certain death.
Enjoying a nondestructive existence within its natural habitat located on the Asian continent, many reputable sources believe the emerald ash borer beetle hopped a ride among solid wood packing material destined for the U.S. via cargo ships and/or airplanes sometime between the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. Its arrival soon proved to produce devastating consequences for millions of unsuspecting ash trees growing plentifully in American and Canadian soil.
At first glance the unfolding carnage developing underneath the inner bark of the ash trees, marking the beginning of the end, goes unnoticed. The larvae of the emerald ash borer beetle instinctively lives, feeds, and develops in its safe place away from the threat of human and predatory intervention. Woodpeckers do dine on the developing larvae, however they are no match for the reproducing beetle capable of reproduction in mass numbers and in a short period of time. Within the bark of the ash tree the emerald ash borer beetle diverts the necessary nutrients required for the tree’s survival and emerges through a D shaped hole in the tree as a full grown beetle every spring.
Each trees destruction comes slowly but with visible effects. Lacking proper nutrients, the first observable signs include a progressive die-back in the top one-third of the tree. Leaves continue to die until the tree is left bare. Other evidence includes several sprouts growing from the roots and trunk of the tree as well as leaves appearing larger than normal. Infestations cement the death of each tree affected. The entire process may take one to four years depending on the size and initial health of the tree affected.
Transportation of infected wood from the dead trees for the use of firewood often result in the spread of the emerald ash borer beetles to new and unsuspecting regions. Quarantines are mans only answer to date in limiting the spread of this beetle. Until state and federal officials as well as university researchers develop ways to stop the massive destruction this beetle inflicts upon the trees it uses to continue its life cycle, all people must exercise due diligence by observing current quarantines and destroying affected ash trees as soon as the emerald ash beetle has been detected.