With their slender leaves and tall, straight trunks, ash trees look lovely in any yard. Unfortunately, common varieties of ash, including the green, white, and black ash, are notorious for attracting insects. Some of these insects can cause serious disease or blight in the ash tree. Here are three, in particular, that you should watch out for if you have ash trees on your land.
1. Emerald Ash Borer
Probably the most feared of all insects to infest ash trees, the emerald ash borer was first discovered in Detroit in 2002. In the years since, it has spread across the country, and it continues to spread rapidly. Emerald ash borers are named for their bright, metallic green color. They're about 1/2 inch long with cylindrical bodies.
Emerald ash borers cause substantial damage to ash trees as they burrow beneath the bark to lay their eggs. The eggs soon hatch into larvae, which feed on the tree's wood. Eventually, the damage becomes so extensive that the tree can no longer transport water and nutrients up the trunk to its leaves.
Signs of an emerald ash borer infestation include:
- Thinning of leaves near the crown
- Suckers emerging from the base of the tree
- D-shaped holes in the bark
- Tunnels revealed when the bark is peeled back
Trees rarely live longer than four years post-infestation. If you think your tree may be infested with emerald ash borers, have a tree care service remove the tree to ensure the wood is disposed of properly in a way that prevents insects from spreading. Either you or your tree care company should report the infestation to the Emerald Ash Borer Hotline, which can be reached at 1-866-322-4512.
2. Banded Ash Borer
The banded ash borer is another wood-boring insect that lays its larvae beneath the tree's bark. These insects have elongated bodies that are primarily black in color with yellow or ivory bands. They're about 1/2 inch long, or slightly larger, when mature.
Banded ash borer infestations are often mistaken for emerald ash borer infestation. However, there are a few simple ways to distinguish between the two.
Banded ash borers push their frass (excrement) out of the holes as they bore. This frass looks like darkcolored sawdust and accumulates in the grooves of the bark. Frass is absent in emerald ash borer infestations. Banded ash borers also leave large, round exit holes instead of D-shaped holes.
These pests are easier to manage than emerald ash borers. Your tree care expert can prune away the badly infested branches; this often keeps the infestation from spreading. You can safely keep and burn firewood from infested trees as long as you store it outside until needed.
3. Ash Flower Gall
If you spot a big brown cluster handing from your ash tree's branches, you are likely observing an ash flower gall. This type of gall forms when a specific species of tiny mites begin feeding on the ash tree's flowers in the springtime. To defend itself from attack, the ash tree grows tissue around the mites, resulting in brown, fluffy galls.
The mites that cause ash flower gall are too small to be seen with a naked eye. Luckily, the damage they cause is mostly aesthetic. A few ash flower galls won't significantly impact the health of your ash tree. If the appearance really bothers you, your tree care company can remove the galls - but your tree won't suffer if you decide to just leave them in place.
Since insects are so fond of ash trees, you should always keep a close eye on your ashes for signs of blight. If you suspect any sort of infestation or disease, contact Joe Webster Tree Care, Inc. We can take a closer look and recommend tree removal, trimming, or other care based on the insect at fault.