Kansas Department of Agriculture tests trees for emerald ash borers

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Your ash tree might be at risk of being infected by insects called emerald ash borers. The Kansas Department of Agriculture has confirmed Atchison County’s ash trees are at risk. Now trees are being tested to see if there’s a threat in Shawnee County.

Brian Buhler, who works at Skinner Garden Store says ash trees are popular — people want them because of the colors they turn in the fall. But its looks can be deceiving knowing what they can attract.

“We do get a number of customers,” Buhler said. “So they’ll see one in their neighbor’s yard and they’ll be looking for an ash, unfortunately we just can’t help them.”

He says his company doesn’t sell them because of the insects they attract — insects like the emerald ash borer that originated in Asia and have made their way to Kansas.

Jeff Vogel, Manager for Plant Protection and Weed Control at the Kansas Department of Agriculture said the emerald ash borer only affects the ash tree.

“Those are the beetles that are flying around…will lay their eggs on the ash tree and then that beetle — larvae, will hatch and feed underneath the bark causing damage,” Vogel said.

And years later your tree dies after so much deterioration from these beetles. If you have an infested ash tree you’ll see chutes coming out the trunk, or even D-shaped holes 1/8 of an inch wide.

“The cost of removing and replacing trees is significant to an individual and to a municipality,” Vogel said.

The Department of Agriculture has set up 4 traps in Shawnee County to see if those trees are at risk of being infested. With one of the trees they’re testing, they’ve removed some bark from the tree which stresses the tree and attracts the emerald ash borer.

“We will remove this tree, cut it down and peel the bark off looking for the immature larval stage of the insect,” Vogel said.

Vogel said the four trees they’re testing in Shawnee County will be cut down after they inspect them. They plan to get their results sometime next month. He also said emerald ash borers are found in infected firewood. To slow the spreading of the emerald ash borer, he said you should buy locally grown firewood if you use that for your fire place.

So far, Shawnee County has not had any of its ash trees test positive for the emerald ash borer. To see if you have an ash tree, check your leaves. If they have an odd number of leaflets that are adjacent from each other and one hanging from the top, you have an ash tree.

If you think your tree might be infected by the insect, give the Kansas Department of Agriculture a call so they can come out and inspect your tree.

Send an email with your name, address, phone number and pictures of the suspected tree to KDA.PPWC@ks.gov or call 785-564-6698.

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