Tree-Killing Beetle Moves Toward Nebraska


An invasive tree-eating bug has already killed tens of millions of trees in two dozen states, and it's getting closer and closer to Nebraska.

Nebraska's ash trees could be in danger as the small shiny green insect, the emerald ash borer keeps spreading across the country -- now confirmed in Iowa, Kansas and Colorado.

“Once they're here we anticipate that they could take out as many as 80 percent of our ash trees,” says Dr. Fred Baxendale, a professor and Extension entomologist at UNL.

The bugs, native to Asia, have popped up in 24 states since it was first spotted in Michigan in 2002.

“Buy Where You Burn” is the new motto for many states as firewood is how the beetle that can't fly very well is getting around so quickly.

“It'll eat right behind the bark and it stops nutrient movement in the tree,” says Elizabeth Killinger, an Extension Educator in Hall County. “Those trees will take three to four years before they show some symptoms, and then eventually it's death of the tree.”

“What you have is this infestation that you don't know about that's producing beetles that are going out and infesting other trees in the area,” says Baxendale.

Horticulturists say EAB are only attacking true ash trees, not mountain ash, but for some cities, like Lincoln where ash is dominant, it will be a real problem.

“Green ash is a really great tree, quick growing, offers really great shade, and so there are some communities that are 70 percent or more ash,” says Killinger.

For now experts say Nebraska ash owners should simply stay alert, keep an eye on tree health, and get help if they think they have EAB since there are many look-a-likes.

“This isn't the end of the world, we do have ways of controlling emerald ash borer,” says Baxendale.

Those ways include trunk sprays, but specialists say preventing the spread with firewood and other wood material safety, plus keeping diversity in mind when planting, can do the most good.

“No more than 10 percent of the landscape be made up of any one species and so if you have an ash right now, just go ahead and leave it,” says Killinger. “If you're planning on planting new trees, maybe look at some species other than ash.”

Use the links below to find out more about EAB, or contact your local extension office.

Click HERE for the Neb. Department of Ag's EAB site.

Click HERE to visit

Click HERE to visit the Nebraska Forest Service EAB site.