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Emerald ash borer found in Barn Bluff tree, quarantine declared

Emerald ash borer larva is shown in the trunk of a tree on Barn Bluff in Red Wing. It is the first case of the invasive insect species identified in Goodhue County. (photo courtesy Minnesota Department of Agriculture)

Goodhue County has been placed under an emergency quarantine after emerald ash borer was found in a tree in Red Wing, the first time the invasive beetle has been identified in the county, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The quarantine puts limits on the movement of firewood and ash material out of the county to reduce the risk of further spreading the tree-killing insect.

In a news release Thursday, March 2, the MDA says an employee hiking over the weekend at Barn Bluff noticed an ash tree with woodpecker damage, "a tell-tale sign of possible EAB infestation."

Further investigation found larvae in the tree. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday confirmed the insect to be ash borer.

The city is ahead of the game for emerald ash borer preparedness, having been diligently removing ash trees and diversifying urban forests for several years, said Shawn Blaney with Red Wing Public Works.

“The (City) Council has been very supportive of us being proactive, knowing that this was going to get here at some point,” Blaney said of the emerald ash borer threat.

There are 14 Minnesota counties already under quarantine to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer, including neighboring Dakota, Olmsted, Wabasha and Dodge Counties.

If a resident is concerned about an ash tree in their yard or the public right of way, they can contact Red Wing Public Works at 651-385-3674 for an inspection.

Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk. The insect was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009 and is now found in 30 states.

Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by emerald ash borer, as the state has approximately one billion ash trees — the most of any state in the nation, the MDA says.

“Our staff led by example and followed the advice we’ve been giving for years which is, it’s important that people go out into their yards, parks, and natural areas and look for signs of EAB,” said Geir Friisoe, director of MDA’s Plant Protection Division. “The trees are still bare and the weather is warmer, so this is the perfect time to look for woodpecker damage and other signs of an emerald ash borer infestation.”

What to look for when checking for emerald ash borer, according to the MDA:

•Be sure you’ve identified an ash tree. This is an important first step since EAB only feeds on ash trees. Ash have opposite branching — meaning branches come off the trunk directly across from each other. On older trees, the bark is in a tight, diamond-shaped pattern. Younger trees have a relatively smooth bark.

•Look for woodpecker damage. Woodpeckers like EAB larvae and woodpecker holes may indicate the presence of EAB.

•Check for bark cracks. EAB larvae tunneling under the bark can cause the bark to split open, revealing the larval (S-shaped) tunnels underneath.

•Contact a professional. If you feel your ash tree may be infested with EAB, contact a tree care professional, your city forester or the MDA at arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or 888-545-6684 (voicemail).

Minnesotans can also help stop the spread of EAB by burning firewood where you buy it and don’t transport it. Look for wood that is MDA certified as heat-treated to ensure it is pest-free.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

(651) 301-7875
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