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EAB Found in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin
Destructive Pest Is Spreading


The Emerald Ash Borer can grow to be about half and inch long. However, while small in stature, it can have huge effects on the environment.

On Monday, December 5th, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was found for the first time in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Clair Campus. Eau Claire County now joins forty-seven other quarantined counties that are affected by the EAB and, as a result, private citizens cannot take firewood from the area to a non-quarantined area. Furthermore, any businesses handling a wood product must work with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to ensure their products are free of the pest.

The EAB is sometimes referred to as a jewel beetle or a metallic wood-boring beetle due to its bright and glossy color. It is originally native to northeastern Asia and is thought to be accidentally introduced by overseas shipping materials, such as packing crates. This pest can have devastating effects on all types of ash trees, as a fully grown, untreated and infested ash tree can die within ten years. The USDA states, on a dedicated EAB website, that the pest has "Killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America and cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest product industries hundreds of millions of dollars." Interestingly, it is not the adult EABs that cause a tree to die, but rather their larvae, as the larvae are laid inside the phloem of an ash tree and essentially choke the tree of water and nutrients.

What tipped experts off to the EAB being in Eau Claire was the noticeable amount of woodpecker activity on three specific ash trees near the Haas Fine Arts center on the campus of UW-Eau Claire. Because woodpeckers love to eat the larvae from an infected tree, this observation, along with the EAB being found in neighboring counties, was a good indicator of the presence of EAB in the area. After a larva sample was sent to a lab in Michigan, the first state to find EAB back in 2002, a positive identification was confirmed and Eau Claire County was added to the quarantined list by the DATCP. The last area to be added to the quarantine list was the entire state of South Carolina on October 3rd, 2017.

There are a few management practices that individuals and professionals can take in order to safeguard their ash trees. Firstly it is important that the EAB is properly identified on, or in, a specific ash tree. Once a positive identification is established, quarantining and tree removal are the most applicable resolutions to an Emerald Ash Borer infestation. Professionals may also opt to apply insecticides if the situation is appropriate. If it looks like you are experiencing EAB damage, the website has a comprehensive list with emails and phone numbers listed for you to contact. The insect is not harmful to humans or pets, however it is spreading at a noticeable rate and can have dire consequences on old-growth ash trees, many of which are native to all parts of North America.

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December 6, 2019, 12:45 pm PDT

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