escalates war against emerald ash borer
Capital News Service
March 5, 2004
LANSING -- Michigan’s war against the ash-tree-consuming
emerald ash borer has escalated, as state eradicators have begun striking
infested areas before the exotic wood-boring beetle wreaks more havoc on Michigan
“There are streets that have lost their entire ash trees,“ said
Sara Linsmeier-Wurfel, a public information officer with the Michigan Department
The half-inch dark metallic green beetles pose a significant threat to Michigan’s
700 million ash trees in Michigan as well as forests in border states and
Canada. The beetles have spread from six counties in southeastern Michigan
to 13 counties around the state, consuming 6 million ash trees along their
way since their discovery in summer 2002.
State agencies have begun eradication efforts in newly infested areas as part
of its 13-year program to eliminate the beetle. Trees within a half-mile of
a dying ash are being removed in Saginaw County. This process will continue
in Delta Township, Marshall, Potterville, St. Clair, St. Joseph and Wyoming
“We’re going to be super active and super aggressive,” Linsmeier-Wurfel
said. “This is very critical to stop and protect the ash resource in
Michigan and beyond.”
Michigan’s initial strikes will conclude before May. The beetles emerge
from the infested trees around mid-May, and can kill a tree within one to
These efforts come as Gov. Jennifer Granholm asks the original six infected
counties to examine beetle damage and consider declaring local emergencies,
which would allow the state to request more federal funding to help a recovery.
Those counties are Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne.
“2004 signals a critical year for taking advantage of the opportunity
to act now to stop this insect and minimize the threats it poses to Southeast
Michigan, the rest of the state and beyond,” Granholm said.
The state will use $11 million in federal money between Jan. 1 and April 30
to curb the spread of the beetle.
The beetle had not been discovered in North America before summer 2002. The
emerald ash borer is native to northeastern China, Korea, Mongolia, Japan,
Taiwan and eastern Russia.
Michigan already has quarantined ash trees and timber in the affected counties.
Moving ash wood outside the areas is prohibited without agriculture department
approval. Officials say moving the wood has significantly contributed to the
number of infected areas.
“We know that they are strong flyers,” said Therese Poland, a
research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We’ve
seen them fly up above trees and out of sight.”
Poland said researchers believe the beetle has been in Michigan between five
and 10 years.
“It has the ability to build up population numbers very quickly,”
she said. “They seem to be able to attack healthy trees.”
Dead or dying ash trees present significant safety issues, according to state
agriculture officials, because the trees are near homes, businesses, schools,
sidewalks, roads and utilities.
“This is one of the most devastating pests,” said Ken Rauscher,
chairman of Michigan’s Emerald Ash Borer Management Board.
The state will continue monitoring the beetles with 95 surveyors. A trapping
program, where the emerald ash borer will be captured and counted on the trees,
will help researchers grasp the movements of the beetles.
“There is more and more activity going on this year,” Rauscher
said. “There’s a great amount of dying trees.”
Copyright 2004, Capital News Service, Michigan State University
School of Journalism