Invasive insect: Emerald ash borer reaches Minnesota

Members of the Minnesota DNR are trying to find a way to delay the spread of the emerald ash borer insect.

The invasive species, which was discovered in Minnesota last summer, lays eggs on the bark of ash trees, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The larvae burrow beneath the bark and eat the living insides of the tree, cutting off the channels within the tree that act as veins, carrying water and nutrients to the limbs of the tree. The tree will begin to starve to death within two or three years.

The emerald ash borer has been discovered in at least five neighborhoods in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Falcon Heights and could affect the 937 million ash trees in Minnesota. It is believed that the insect was inadvertently brought to the U.S. from Asia in the 1990s. The emerald ash borer was first seen in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002.

Since then, the insect has killed millions of ash trees while spreading to Ontario, Canada, and several states, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virgina, Missouri and Wisconsin.

The insect is metallic green and about half an inch long. The borer is active from May-September each year and it’s presence can be identified by the D-shaped hole it leaves when it matures and exits the tree.

To prevent the spread of the insect, the Minnesota DNR has placed Hennepin and Ramsey counties under emerald ash borer quarantine. The bug is most commonly spread through the movement of firewood, so the DNR is asking Minnesota campers not to travel with firewood and requests instead that campers purchase wood once they reach their destination. The DNR also asks that Minnesota campers do not take any extra firewood home with them.

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