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Top 10, No. 10: Emerald ash borer arrives in Red Wing

A photo taken in early-2017 shows emerald ash borer larva in the trunk of a tree on Barn Bluff in Red Wing. It was the first case of the invasive insect species identified in Goodhue County. Photo courtesy Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Red Wing in 2017 joined the growing list communities affected by the tree-killing insect emerald ash borer.

Larvae were discovered in an ash tree on Barn Bluff, prompting an emergency quarantine in March limiting the movement of firewood and ash material out of Goodhue County. More than a dozen counties currently are under emerald ash borer quarantine around southeastern Minnesota, the Twin Cities and Duluth.

There are four known infested sites in Red Wing, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. In addition to the verified infestation on Barn Bluff, there was a credible emerald ash borer report in Colvill Park and two reports in trees along West Third Street.

The state marks quarantine boundaries and infested sites on a map available at www.mda.state.mn.us/emeraldashborer.

City's response

The city of Red Wing was proactive in preparing for the arrival of emerald ash borer, taking steps such as removing ash trees and diversifying urban forests. The Public Works department is now looking to inoculate select healthy trees while an overall emerald ash borer policy is developed and implemented this coming spring.

The approved 2018 budget provides funding to inoculate as many as 500 of the 1,100 ash trees on public property listed in the city's asset management software, Public Works deputy director Shawn Blaney said. Bidding for inoculation services is expected later this winter.

Several factors will be taken into consideration to determine which trees are good candidates for treatment, such as overall health of a tree, its location and the condition of surrounding infrastructure, Blaney said.

Dead ash trees become brittle and can pose a safety hazard, so it is important they are removed in a timely manner, he added.

What to look for

Residents are encouraged to be vigilant about invasive pests, including knowing which species are of concern in the area and knowing the signs to spot them, an agriculture department spokesman said.

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 emerald ash borer only feeds on ash trees.

• Look for woodpecker damage, which may indicate the presence of emerald ash borer larvae.

• Check for bark cracks; tunneling emerald ash borer larvae can cause the bark to split open, revealing S-shaped tunnels underneath.

Anyone who suspects emerald ash borer or other invasive insects is asked to contact the state's Arrest the Pest line at 888-545-6684 or arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us.

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.

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