‘Stress pest’ strikes trees near OsakisRed-headed ash borer less dangerous than emerald
By: Amy Chaffins, The Osakis Review
Frustration and fear for the future of her trees led an Osakis woman to call in lawmakers.
Susie Meyer’s call to state Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen was to ask for help identifying a case of emerald ash borer (EAB) in the trees at her property north of Osakis.
Instead of getting the cold shoulder, she had quick results and a sigh of relief – instead of EAB, the trees were infested with red- headed ash borer.
Meyer and her husband, Justin, first noticed something was wrong when five of their ash trees had lost most of their bark. Meyer was concerned they had been struck by EAB – something she knew little about, except that it could take out all the trees in her yard.
She invited her brother to cut one down, followed by the other four after several calls resulted in little more than someone telling her she was wrong.
What they found was scary – the cross-section of the trunk showed something had been tunneling throughout the wood. She also found some kind of larvae. As disgusting as it was, she pulled it out with a tweezers and froze it, since she figured no one would believe her.
Out of sheer frustration, she made a last-resort call to Senator Ingebrigtsen, stating she had a problem and couldn’t find anyone to help her.
“It’s frustrating when you have a problem and don’t know who to call,” she said. “I made some calls and received pretty negative response.”
Ingebrigtsen’s response was different. He followed up quickly, directing the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Little Falls office to contact Meyer and see if the trees were infested with the dreaded EAB.
Based on the phone conversation and another with local Extension Educator Robin Trott, the larvae found in the tree were determined to be red-headed ash borer.
According to Mark Abrahamson, entomologist with the state department of agriculture, the red-headed ash borer (RAB) is not something to raise concern in ash tree owners.
He said it is not a pest of healthy trees – typically they find ash trees already in decline, stressed or dying, providing an opportunity for the insect.
Abrahamson was able to identify the culprit by pictures e-mailed from Meyer. He predicted the larvae in the picture had tunneled through the wood of the tree, something he said EAB do not do, instead they stay right under the bark except for a small chamber they create right under the surface of the wood.
While it looks like the fate of Douglas County’s ash trees is fine – for now – Meyer still wonders about her own trees.
While the RAB won’t hurt healthy trees, she wonders how to keep her remaining tress from the weakened state that opens the door to the “stress” pest.
“I feel better, but I will keep an eye on my trees,” she said. “Thankfully, now I know who to call in the future.”