Emerald ash borers not yet here, but another bug is

An ash tree stands in Frank Park on Friday. Trees like this one should be closely monitored for symptoms of diseases and pests like the lilac-ash borer. Emerald ash borers are not a problem in the area, although they may become one in the future.

SCOTTSBLUFF — Although areas in eastern Nebraska and Colorado have reported cases of emerald ash borers, the insects haven’t made it to the Panhandle yet. However, those who have ash trees aren’t in the clear.

Chrissy Land, a community forestry specialist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the lilac-ash borer is commonly found targeting trees in western Nebraska.

“This insect, the lilac-ash borer, is particularly attracted to trees that are stressed from a variety of things that could be girdling roots, drought, injuries or other disturbances like having been recently transplanted,” Land said.

Symptoms of an infestation are similar to those that involve the emerald ash borer, including crown die back and bark splitting, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

While the emerald ash borer isn’t in the area yet, it will likely show up sometime in the future.

“Many professionals suspect that the spread of the insect will be related to human transportation rather than the insect moving on its own, particularly through the movement of infested fire wood,” said Land.

She said it’s important to buy firewood where you burn it, rather than moving it across the state.

At this time, there is no need to treat ash trees for emerald ash borers.

“The protocol for EAB treatment is an ash can be treated if EAB has been detected within 15 miles,” Land said.

She recommends that municipalities have a plan for an emerald ash borer infestation, should it reach the community.

“For anyone in western Nebraska managing large numbers of ash (municipal crews for example), a slow replacement of ash with other species is a good idea, beginning with the trees in the worst shape,” Land said.

She said planting a variety of species in the community will help trees and forests be more resilient to pests and disease.

“If we have time on our side, there is no excuse for not being proactive and prepared,” Land said.

Individual homeowners with only one or two trees should keep them, assuming there are no serious problems.

“With that said, constant monitoring is advised,” Land said. “As tree owners, we should always be evaluating our trees, looking for any signs of damage and consulting with a professional when necessary to make proactive choices regarding tree health. Identification is key for both the tree and the insect.”

Those who aren’t sure whether or not their tree is an ash tree or who think their tree may be affected by pests or disease should consult a professional, Land said.

Additionally, she said, it is important for tree owners to report any suspicious activity that could be related to the emerald ash borer to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture or their local extension office.

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Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

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