Single Most Destructive Forest Pest Arrives in Superior

By KBJR News 1

August 15, 2013 Updated Aug 16, 2013 at 11:16 AM CDT

The single most destructive forest pest in North America has arrived in the Twin Ports.

The Emerald Ash Borer has already killed millions of the trees across the United States.

It's an invasive insect capable of taking down entire forests.
Officials say they detected that insect on Tuesday in Superior.

The destructive stage of the pest is really the larvae. They hatch inside the tree and bore through the bark.

The insect then begins to feed on the nutrients the tree needs to survive and restricts water flow

"We know we have approximately 3,000 of the emerald ash trees in the city on public land. They estimate there could be up to 17,000 of these trees in the community between public and private properties," says Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen.

If officials can't eradicate the pest, it would cost Superior more than 2 million dollars.

"We're going to be taking some of the ash that we believe are going to be lost anyway and frankly, we believe all of them are going to be lost...What could counter that however is if our science community does come up with either an effective treatment or a natural enemy to the ash," says Parks and Recreation Administrator Mary Morgan.

The city has acquired a wood chipper to reduce trees to a safe dimension.

"The state and the federal government consider ash treated or no longer a threat to EAB when the wood is chipped one inch by one inch on two of the three dimensions," Morgan adds.

The city is now under a strict quarantine that restricts transportation of ash products to uninfected areas.

In response to the Superior infestation, Duluth Mayor Don Ness responded with an impromptu meeting to help Duluthian's deal with the impending threat.

"Don't move the firewood that's number one. The second thing is we will work with you to know what to look for," says former city of Duluth Forester, Kelly Fleissner.

Because the insect can only fly a limited distance, human transportation of infected wood is said to cause its spread.

Now that trees in Superior are infected, officials say ash species in Duluth may be close behind.

"If you're looking at our boulevard trees which is in the neighborhood of about 4,500 in Duluth, we're looking at 1.5 - 2 million dollars just to just to cut those and down," says Fleissner.

And another 3 – 5 million to replace the trees.

Officials are encouraging citizens of Superior and Duluth to become familiar with the symptoms of infected trees, to alert officials,

And to rememeber...

"If they look unhealthy already. It's too late," Mary Morgan advises.

The most recent nearby case of Emerald Ash Borer was detected in 2009 in St. Paul.

Posted to the web by Gabrielle Ware