Emerald Ash Borers near ND borders

Emerald ash borer (FILE)
Emerald ash borer (FILE)(WVIR)
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 4:52 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2023 at 5:18 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Insects that have killed hundreds of millions of ash trees throughout the U.S. are nearing North Dakota’s borders and the state’s 90 million ash trees. Foresters say it’s “inevitable” the Emerald Ash Borer will find a way into North Dakota.

Emerald Ash Borers, first discovered in the U.S. in the mid-1990s/early 2000s, are native to Asia and chew through ash trees. Once infested, an ash can die in roughly two years. The insect, as an adult, can’t fly more than a mile or two, but they can hitch rides to other locations on firewood or nursery trees.

Forestry specialist for NDSU extension Joe Zeleznik says Green Ash is North Dakota’s most common tree species and infestation could be extremely detrimental.

“We have a great resource here and the trees provide a lot of benefits. A large healthy tree can provide a lot of shade for an individual house. A shelter belt can protect a roadway or a farmstead. There’s a lot of value there,” said Zeleznik.

He expects North Dakota’s cold winters could slow the development. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says the state is prepared.

“The North Dakota Department of Agriculture and our partners have been preparing for emerald ash borer’s eventual arrival for many years. We maintain a quarantine that restricts movement of regulated commodities such as firewood from infested areas,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring in a statement.

Foresters reported infestations just two miles from North Dakota in Moorhead, MN in February. Officials also found the Emerald Ash Borer in Sioux Falls, SD, and in Canada 50 miles north of the North Dakota border.

The ND Department of Agriculture encourages travelers to only buy firewood, logs, branches, wood chips, and nursery stock locally.

Zeleznik says it can be difficult to spot the pests. He says you can check your ash trees for die-back from the top down, excessive water sprouts, and a D-shaped exit hole.

More information on identification of the Emerald Ash Borer and prevention methods can be found at: Emerald Ash Borer | North Dakota Department of Agriculture (nd.gov).

If you have a tree that you believe is infected, contact the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.