The emerald ash borer is the larval form of an invasive Asian beetle. The beetles themselves can cause some damage to the foliage of an ash tree, but it is the larvae that are the greatest danger to the tree. The larvae develop beneath the bark of the ash, where they feed upon the wood. A severe infestation results in the premature death of the tree. The following can help you spot ash borer symptoms on your property.
Ash borers feed primarily on the cambium layer of the tree, which is the layer that transports water and nutrients. The loss of cambium means that there is less nutrient transfer to the foliage, so the leaves begin to die off prematurely. At first, there may just appear to be fewer leaves, but eventually, entire branches will die as the tree cuts off the nutrient supply in an effort to mitigate the damage.
Increased Bird Activity
Insect feeding birds, like woodpeckers, often spend a lot of time in ash borer infested trees since there is a ready food source. If you notice increased bird activity or see the tell-tale signs of woodpecker damage, like small feeding holes, ash borers could be attracting the birds. Of course, woodpeckers alone don't mean the problem is borers specifically since other insect infestations could also attract the birds.
When an ash tree is in distress, particularly from loss of foliage, it will sometimes send up suckers in an attempt to produce more foliage and cambium tissue to survive the problem. This occurs in the form of suckers, which are small, weak secondary trunks that sprout up from the base of the tree.
Visible Borer Damage
There are two types of damage you can spot on an infested tree that definitely mean that ash borers are the problem. The first is galleries. If you break off a piece of loose bark, you will see squiggly lines in the wood. These lines indicate insect feeding. If you spot the lines in conjunction with small half-circle holes on the trunk, then ash borers are the most likely culprit. The half-circle holes are where the mature beetles exit the trunk.
Unfortunately, ash borer infestations can be difficult to treat if the damage is severe. If you are in an area with borer issues, the best option is to contact a tree service and schedule preventative treatments so that the ash borers never get a chance to attack your trees.
For more information about emerald ash borer treatment and prevention, contact your local tree service.