Late last week the Minnesota Department of Agriculture confirmed emerald ash borer had been confirmed for the first time in Rice County. Rice County became the 22nd county in Minnesota with emerald ash borer. It was a Faribault Public Works employee that noticed an ash tree in Faribault with emerald ash borer symptoms and reported it to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has enacted an emergency quarantine to limit the movement of firewood and ash material out of the county. The Faribault Public Works employee was able to identify the symptoms of emerald ash borer because he had attended a workshop earlier this month!

It is the emerald ash borer larvae that kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark feeding on the part of the tree that movies nutrients up and down the trunk. There are about one billion ash trees in Minnesota that are at risk. I can remember the day when there were huge elm trees growing along city streets in most rural communities. It was Dutch elm disease that wiped them out. In many cases it was ash trees that were planted to replace the elm trees!

The emerald ash borer insect can fly just a few miles in a year to infect new ash trees. The major way the emerald ash borer spreads is under the bark when people move firewood from an ash tree! So, don't move firewood from an ash tree. It you have ash trees there are a couple symptoms to look for.

Inspect your ash trees for woodpecker damage. Woodpeckers like emerald ash borer larvae and many woodpecker holes in the bark may indicate the presence of emerald ash borer. Also, check for cracks in the bark. The larvae tunneling under the bark can cause the bark to split open. Then you can see the S shaped tunnels under the bark caused by the larvae.

If you see an ash tree with these symptoms contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, your local forester, tree care professional or your local University of Minnesota Extension office. It would be a shame to see all our ash trees cut down!