OYO: Emerald Ash Borer: What you need to know

Published: May. 18, 2018 at 4:16 AM CDT
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Emerald Ash Borer has arrived in South Dakota. In this edition of Owning Your Outdoors, Lewis lawn and garden expert Doug Schroeder tells us what we need to know.

"It was brought in accidentally from Asia. It's actually a jewel beetle. It thrives on eating the bark off ash trees, laying their larvae within the bark, and it eventually kills the tree" Schroeder said.

So the question is, how do we know if our tree has the ash borer? Schroeder says there are a couple things to look for.

"First, it's called blonding, you will see the outer bark of the tree starting to disappear, it turns a lighter color," he said.

He says this will result in a lot of wood pecker activity.

"Wood peckers thrive from eating the larvae from the Emerald ash borer, so if you have a lot of wood peckers within the tree," he says you might have an infected tree.

Lastly, he says canopy die-off is another sign.

"Though, I want to stress, canopy die-off could be for other reasons too, the tree could just be stressed," Schroeder said.

Many want to know 'if our tree has it, is it pretty much done?' Schroeder says ultimately you might be out of luck, but there are some things you can do.

"If it has it, yes there are some things you can do to prolong the life of the tree, but it's a good time to really evaluate the trees you have in your yard," he said.

Tree diversity is key.

"Maybe you don't need as many ash, maybe it's time to thin some of them out. Choose the trees you want to protect," Schroeder said.

He also says there are some ways you can try to prevent the trees you have from getting infected by the bug.

"The best way is to contact an arborist and have them actually do a treatment where they drill into the bark of the tree and inject an insecticide. That will go throughout the whole tree and protect the tree," he said.

At the Lewis Garden Center there are steps workers there take.

"What we do is we carry a drench, where you actually do a trough around the tree, one foot around the trunk of the tree, the roots absorb it and pull it up through the tree," he said.

He says this method works best with smaller trees.

Schroeder reiterates though, diversifying your trees when you plant, is really important.

"Anytime that we have had one type of tree, you are inviting disease into that area. It happened years ago with Dutch elm," he said.

He has some tips.

"If you are planting trees, diversify. Don't do all maple. That's what I am seeing in a lot of newer parts of town [Sioux Falls]. They are beautiful, but maybe plant one maple and then a couple other types of trees in your yard," he said.

Schroeder recommends a couple different types of trees to plant in your yard.

"Trees I recommend are elm, the new elm are actually descendants of trees that survived dutch elm disease, so they are very resistant to dutch elm or other diseases," he said.

Schroeder's personal favorite is a greenspire linden.

"They have beautiful leaves on the tree, add great shape to the tree," he said.

South Dakota Department of Agriculture has information as well.