EAB stands for emerald ash borer, an invasive, exotic, wood-boring beetle that attacks and kills ash trees regardless of species, size, age, or health. EAB hasn’t arrived in Washington state yet but all indications suggest that it will in time.

The emerald ash borer, native to China, was first discovered in Michigan in the summer of 2002–likely entering the U.S. by hitching a ride on wooden crating or shipping materials from Asia. Since its arrival, EAB has since spread to at least 26 other eastern states and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. It was discovered as far west as Colorado in 2013 and was just recently found in May and June of this year in Texas and Nebraska, respectively.

There are an estimated 8,000,000,000 (eight billion!) ash trees in the U.S. and they are all susceptible. There are no natural predators of EAB in North America and native ash trees have no resistance or defense mechanisms to fend off an EAB attack. Sound alarming? It should. EAB is already being described by some as the most costly and ecologically devastating event for North American forests ever–eradication of an entire genera of woody plants on a continental scale.

The Emerald Ash Borer. Photo from wikimedia commons.

Anecdotally, EAB’s impact in the Pacific Northwest will not be as devastating as in other parts of the country (since ash make up a comparatively small percentage of our forests) but the impact will still be felt. Our native Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia) will be susceptible along with varieties of non-native white ash (Fraxinus americana), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and many other ornamental ash species commonly planted in urban landscapes throughout the northwest.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture has already deployed traps to monitor for EAB (see article published last year in Tree Link) and is working with the Washington Invasive Species Council to quantify impacts of invasive species in Washington including EAB. Updates from these organizations are pending and will be featured in an upcoming edition of Tree Link.

In the meantime, are you ready for EAB?