Commissioner Steve Troxler: U.S. Forest Service Grant Helps Protect Urban Ash Trees from Emerald Ash Borer

The N.C. Forest Service received a grant from the U.S. Forest Service that is being used to protect urban ash trees from the emerald ash borer, a highly destructive pest whose reach and threat to ash trees is becoming greater in the state.

  • In 2013, the first signs of emerald ash borers were found in North Carolina in Granville County, sparking serious concern for ash trees in the state. Further searching turned up the green metallic beetle in Person, Vance and Warren counties. It was detected in a tree stand in Wayne County in 2015.
  • Emerald ash borers are known to be highly destructive pests that have caused well documented devastation of forests in the northwest.
  • Initially, it was only found in a few counties, but today the emerald ash borer has been found in 36 of the state’s 100 counties.
  • Ash trees have been popular choices in urban settings so it is very likely that you may find a canopy of ash trees down many main streets in our cities. Unfortunately, the emerald ash borer has been found within five miles of Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Durham and Asheville, posing a serious threat to these trees.
  • Our department received a grant from the U.S. Forest Service that we are using to help protect urban trees, particularly those of historical or recreational value in high-visibility urban areas.
  • The Ash Protection Program primarily helps municipalities treat urban ash trees with a pesticide that protects the tree from emerald ash borers for two to three years. The pesticide is injected into the base of the tree for the initial protection, with the option of extending the protection with a booster application later.
  • This year, we funded the first round of projects, which included the cities of Charlotte, Greensboro, Henderson and Salisbury, the town of Matthews, the Society for the Preservation of Historic Oakwood in Raleigh and the Arthur Morgan School in Burnsville.
  • Altogether, 201 urban ash trees were treated in 2018 through this program.
  • The emerald ash borers are a quarter- to a half-inch long and are slender and metallic green. The adult beetles begin to emerge from May to June, so they can be seen in the summer months.
  • When the adults emerge from a tree, they leave behind a D-shaped exit hole. The larvae can also create serpentine tunneling marks, known as feeding galleries, which are found under the bark of the infested trees.
  • I hope we are able to continue the urban program for several more years, because this insect is a real threat to ash trees across the state.