Weather Forecast


A new worry for Alexandria: emerald ash borer

Alexandria has so many ash trees, a street bears the name. (Lowell Anderson/Alexandria Echo Press)

ALEXANDRIA - A new worry has arisen throughout the streets of Alexandria. The beautiful ash trees that line the streets of the city are in possible danger from the emerald ash borer (EAB).

The EAB is an insect that attacks and kills ash trees.

Since its accidental introduction into North America, EAB has killed millions of ash trees in 10 eastern states. It was found in the St. Paul area this past May.

The adult is a small beetle, one-third to one-half inch long, with a shimmering green body that lives outside the trees. The larva is a worm look-a-like with a yellowish white coloring and lives underneath the tree bark.

Minnesota has the second highest number of ash trees in the nation with an estimated total of 867 million.

The Alexandria area has one of the highest percentages of ash trees in the state - about 60 percent of its trees are ash trees.

Although there have been no confirmed reports of EAB in Alexandria, city leaders want to be prepared. At its last meeting, the Alexandria City Council directed the city's park board to come up with a plan to deal with the EAB threat.

"We have the potential to lose half the trees in the city," said council member Cindy Bigger, who brought up the issue.

"I'm hoping we can make a plan to prepare for this," Bigger said in an interview with the newspaper. "I want to make it so we have a budget that can cater to this when and if it hits Alexandria."

The city's park department is on the lookout for the EAB.

"We have set up several traps throughout the city and we check them once a month," said Bill Thoennes, park director of Alexandria. "So far there isn't anything to speak of."

Although the EAB may not have entered the area yet, the public should still keep an eye on the health of local ash trees.

The ash tree has no defense against the EAB and once it is attacked it will eventually die without treatment.

In the city, many ash trees have been planted along streets in long rows.

In the county, they grow throughout wooded areas or in yards. Because this is such a popular tree in the area, if the EAB invades and begins to kill off trees, it won't take long before the insect is noticed.

Residents are urged to pay attention to their trees and contact detectors if it seems like there may be a pest invasion.

To identify if a tree has an EAB infection, look for one-eighth-inch, D-shaped holes throughout the trees. These are the exit holes of the borers leaving the trees once they are adults.

In order to keep the trees healthy, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture advises to plant different types of trees.

Another way to stop the EAB from spreading is to not transport firewood when you go camping or are buying it for home use, even if it is within Minnesota. Just buy the wood you need at local sites or at the campgrounds you are visiting. The insect typically moves only about a half-mile per year.

The University of Minnesota Forest Resources Extension has more than 200 volunteers who are trained to recognize trees that have been attacked by an EAB.

If you have questions about the emerald ash borer or feel this pest has attacked your ash trees, call the "Arrest the Pest" hotline at 1-888-545-6684 or send an e-mail to: Arrest.The.Pest@state.