We discussed the emerald ash borer (EAB), a highly destructive bug in our blog, last summer. The Georgia Forestry Comission has now announced that northern Georgia, including the metro Atlanta area, is under quarantine beginning November 7, 2016.
The emerald ash borer is an invasive wood-boring beetle whose eggs and larvae live in and destroy ash trees and possibly other trees as well. These insects made it to the continental US in 2002 and began appearing in Georgia in the summer of 2013, killing tens of millions of trees and threatening the estimated 9 billion ash trees in North America. They kill by blocking the flow of nutrients and starving an otherwise healthy tree, and since they stay under the bark, the insects are typically spread by people transporting firewood from one area to another.
The most important part of the quarantine is preventing the spread of the emerald ash borer. Never transport firewood across county or state lines–always get firewood from local sources and use it where you found or bought it. Especially do not carry firewood from metro Atlanta to campsites elsewhere, since this is thought to be the most common way to spread the EAB.
If you have an ash tree in your yard, be aware that the metro Atlanta area is confirmed EAB positive and has been for some time. It’s highly likely that you will lose the tree to infestation within the next few years. Consider treating your ash trees with systemic insecticides using the basal root drench method, either yourself or with an arborist’s help. 404-CUT-TREE maintains a staff of certified arborists who can offer advice or perform these preventative treatments for you.
Symptoms of an EAB infestation include yellowing and thinning leaves as well as D-shaped holes in the trunk’s bark, but by the time these symptoms appear, the tree is most likely not saveable. Report EAB symptoms right away. Call 404-CUT-TREE for an arborist to assess whether the tree can be treated or whether it should be removed, as well as what can be done to protect your other trees.
Image credits: Quarantine map – Georgia Forestry Commission. Autumn ash leaves – CC-SA by Famartin, here and here. Larva – Pennsylvania Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources–Forestry, here. Dying tree – CC-SA by Michael hunter, here. All others in the public domain via USDA.