Q. I heard emerald ash borer has been found in Fort Worth. What is it and is it affecting our trees in Plano?
A. The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is a destructive wood‐boring pest of ash trees. Native to Asia, the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) was unknown in North America until its discovery in southeast Michigan in 2002. Since then, the invasive pest has spread to 33 states, including Texas.
EAB is responsible for killing millions of stressed and healthy ash trees across much of the country. It reproduces by laying its eggs in ash trees. Symptoms of an infestation may include any or all of the following:
EAB is very aggressive, causing ash trees to die within two or three years after they become infested. To give you an idea, it was found in Texarkana in May 2016 and now, just one and a half years later, it has made its way to the Metroplex. Based on our 2014 iTree Eco analysis, Plano’s tree canopy consists of 6 percent of a species of ash, which means Plano’s tree canopy will become impacted by this insect.
So, what will the City of Plano do as preventative measures? Several years ago when EAB was found in Texarkana, the city stopped planting new ash trees on all major public projects. Next, we will begin to remove ash trees that are in poor health or decline. What does that look like? Major limb dieback in the top of the tree and/or the tree has dropped major limbs and/or is losing bark around the trunk. We will focus on public property such as parks, medians, rights-of-way and municipal buildings. Last, will follow-up by replacing these trees with different species that are not affected by EAB or any other known insect/disease at this time. Our goal is to continue to grow Plano’s canopy and reduce the negative impact of this insect.
So, what can you do as preventative measures? If you have an ash tree on your property that is in poor condition, please consider removing it. The best thing we can do right now is reduce the risk of major infestation by taking away avenues for EAB’s destructive impact, such as unhealthy living ash trees where the beetle will reproduce in mass.
Texas A&M Forest Service is monitoring the situation and provides information about EAB on their website. Mike Sills is our local Texas Forest Service contact in Plano and Collin County. If you have EAB specific questions, please contact Mike at 972-952-9242 or if you think your tree may be infested contact the Texas Forest Service Hotline at 1-866-322-4512.
Do you have a question for our urban forester? Contact Angela Kralik at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-941-5419.