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What's Your Question About EAB? We Have an Answer...

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Emerald ash borer tends to have what we call the NIMBY syndrome -- “I don’t have to think about it because it’s Not In My Back Yard.”

But oh boy, when it is found in someone’s back yard or woodlot, the dynamic changes. Google comes alive with searches for “emerald ash” “EAB” “ash borer” “ash trees” and the like. Where did this bug come from? What can I do to get rid of it? Is it too late to save my ash trees? Will this bug get into my other trees? Can I use the wood from the dead ash trees? What kinds of trees should I plant now? Who do I call?

Fortunately, there are answers to these questions and more on this website. From maps that pinpoint where EAB has been found in North America to how to tell if EAB is in your ash tree, knowledgeable experts from all over North America provide reliable, timely information.

We’ve made it even easier for users to find answers with our Inquiry page. I answer questions, comments and suggestions posted on this page. If I can’t find the answers from information currently on the website, I’ll find an expert who can.  

The posts on the Inquiry page provide me with perspective on the effect this pest is having on our natural world. Sometimes users provide me with information they feel will be beneficial in the ongoing EAB control and management research. Others will tell me stories about their experiences dealing with EAB. There are numerous requests for outreach materials that educate others. Media are often looking for experts to talk to, and images of EAB and its destruction of ash trees. Inquiries come from all over the world, which points to affect this pest has had on an international scale.

Here are a few of the most common inquiries and frequently asked questions:

Sometimes It’s About the Money

·       “I have a dead ash tree [or trees] on my property. Is there money available from the government/city/state that I can get to remove them?”

o   Most state and federal agencies don’t have funding available to remove ash trees from property owners’ yards or woodlots. Occasionally there are special funds available from local governmental agencies or organizations to help, so you could start by contacting your municipality’s office and ask.

·       “Our neighbor had to cut down some dead ash trees in his yard, and he offered us some of the wood. Can we use it for firewood, or will the EAB escape and infest other trees in the neighborhood? It would be nice not to have to buy firewood, but we don’t want to be responsible for more dead trees!”

o   First, let me thank you for your concern for not spreading EAB around the neighborhood. Second, you can lay your fears to rest, because EAB does not infest dead ash trees. The beetle feeds on the live tissues, called phloem, under the bark. If the tree is dead there isn’t any food for EAB larvae.

·       “I have some ash trees on my property, and I think they might have EAB. I’m not sure what I should do about it, or if it’s worth it. Any help is appreciated!”

o   Here’s a great publication that can help: Insecticide Options for Protecting Ash Trees 2019. From determining if it’s worth treating your ash tree to choosing the best treatment options, the unbiased experts help you figure it out. The Information for Homeowners page is another great resource.

Is This EAB? What Does an Ash Tree Look Like?

·       “I think I’ve found EAB in my basement. There were some green bugs near the washer, I think they came through the casement windows.”

o   It’s highly unlikely EAB beetles would choose to live in a basement (unless there is a live ash tree growing there), but there are other insects that resemble EAB, like the ones found on this The Don’t be Fooled by Look-Alikes bulletin.

·        “The woodpeckers are pecking the trees in my backyard. I think a couple of them are ash trees. Does this mean all my trees have EAB?”

o   Ash trees are EAB’s favorite food source. Research has proven it rarely infests other tree species. Woodpeckers enjoy eating EAB larvae and are a good indicator that EAB is in an ash tree. This Educate Activate Beware document created by the Des Moines (IA) Dept of Public Works gives a good overview of what to look for.

·       “Does the insecticide used to control EAB hurt bees?"

o   Check out this document, which discusses potential side effects of insecticide use.

Who Can I Talk to in My Area?

·       “Is there someone who can look at my trees and tell me what to do?

o   Reputable tree care companies, urban foresters and arborists can help. Calling your county Extension office (found in most states) is also a good first step. For more information about what’s going on with EAB in your state, check out the Information for Homeowners page, or type the name of your state into the “Search” function on the upper left side of the website for a list of resources in your area.

Now that EAB is in 35 states and five Canadian provinces, it’s not so much a question of whether it’s in your back yard, but if you are prepared for it when it comes.

 

And that’s why we’re here!

 

Robin Usborne, EAB Communications Coordinator

Department of Entomology, Michigan State University

robinu1@msu.edu

February 4, 2020

Here at EAB University, We Were Online Learning Before Online Learning was Cool!

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Did you know –

·       EAB University has recorded webinars on all kinds of topics related to exotic wood pests and diseases?

·       Webinars are presented by experts and specialists from all over North America?

·       All webinars are free to view?

·       Webinars are a great resource for

o   Extension educators

o   classroom and online instruction

o   homeowners and landowners

o   municipal leaders

o   bug lovers

o   nature lovers

o   tree lovers

o   anyone who needs timely, reliable and expert information on these topics?

Here’s just a sampling of what you could be learning right now:

·       The history of EAB

·       How municipalities all over the country are dealing with EAB

·       EAB research, control methods, management and ecological impacts

·       Community action plans

·       Recognizing and reporting exotic forest pests

·       Regulatory issues

·       Municipal planning for infestations

·       How tree choice can cause the next invasive species disaster

·       Other pests of concern:

o   Gypsy moth

o   Spotted lanternfly

o   Asian longhorned beetle

o   Hemlock woolly adelgid

o   Ambrosia beetles

o   Beech bark disease

o   And more!

Right now everyone needs a little educational stimulation while under the COVID-19 quarantine – which is eerily similar to the quarantines issued when EAB was found in 2002 – so check out the EAB University page to see the interesting things you can learn! They’re free of charge and always accessible, even in the middle of the night when insomnia hits. 😊

Robin Usborne, EAB Communications Coordinator

Department of Entomology, Michigan State University

robinu1@msu.edu

April 9, 2020

EAB’s Destruction of Black Ash Threatens a Native American Tradition

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BLACK ASH BASKETS

Since its discovery in 2002, emerald ash borer (EAB) has been spreading across North America, leaving millions and millions of dead and dying ash trees in its wake. Every year since, we are witness to the pest’s continuing destruction. It’s hard to see bare city and residential streets where ash trees once provided rain remediation, shade and beauty. Forests have acres and acres of empty gaps where ash trees once provided homes for beneficial insects, birds and other forest creatures.

MORE THAN JUST A TREE SPECIES

It is also threatening to destroy the centuries-old industry of black ash basket making in North America. A way of life for the American Indian and First Nation weavers for generations, the loss of black ash to EAB is no small thing.

“Within Indian communities, the people who hold the greatest amount of knowledge about black ash [wiiskaak] and the forested wetlands where these trees reside are the black ash basket makers,” said Nicholas Reo, PhD (Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa), formerly of the Native American Institute at Michigan State University, and now assistant professor of Environmental Studies and Native American Studies at Dartmouth University. “Basket making traditions are maintained within a relatively small number of Indian families. Members of these families are very knowledgeable about wiiskaak distribution and ecology and are highly motivated to preserve ash trees and the art of basket making.”

Known for its sturdy, flexible wood that can be weaved into baskets that are durable and beautiful, black ash is a weaver’s number one choice. These baskets are not just beautiful and useful, they provide a source of income for their creators, many of whom are working hard to save both the black ash trees and the art of basket making.

 

Kelly Church discusses black ash basket making and EAB at a recent meeting at Michigan State University

Kelly Church, discussing basket making and EAB

ARTIST ACTIVISTS

Kelly Church (Gun Lake Band Potowatami, Grand Traverse Band Ottawa Chippewa) and her daughter Cherish Parrish (Gun Lake Band Potowatami) are two Michigan-based black ash basket makers who not only hold workshops and presentations to educate tribes and the general public about their artistry, they also educate them about EAB and its threat to their craft.    

Part of that involves the need for collecting ash seeds now to provide a source for black ash in generations to come. This is the only way to keep the black ash basket making tradition alive, even if it means skipping a generation before the ash are the size best suited to basketmaking. Kelly and Cherish educate children who, when they are 50-60 years old, will need to reestablish the art of basket making when the planted ash seeds become mature trees.

KEEPING MORE THAN THE TREES ALIVE

Renee Wasson Dillard (Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians) lives in northwestern Michigan and is dedicated to keeping the natural fiber arts alive as a full-time weaver and weaving instructor of black ash basketry and other natural fibers. As part of her teachings, Renee impresses upon the participants that the ash tree is part of our living earth family, deserving of respect and love, and needs to be thanked and honored for its permission to become a work of art in another form. She explains the process of choosing and harvesting black ash, as well as how it becomes a work of art and utility as a basket. She talks about the tree's personality, and the spiritual aspect of creating a basket. “You never know what is going to happen or what it is going to be,” she said.

In addition, Renee is a skilled Anishinaabemowin language teacher (the language of the Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes), dedicated to keeping the language alive by incorporating Anishinaabemowin lessons into her basketry and fiber art teachings – thus keeping important cultural elements of the Anishinaabe people from disappearing as the older generations pass on.

Renee Dillard, demonstrating black ash basket making

HELP AND HOPE

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage are well-aware of the EAB threat to Native Americans, and in an article of the National Museaum of the American Indian magazine (“National Museum of the American Indian magazine, spring 2020, ‘A Silent Killer’ by Anne Bolen, pp 8-15 © Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian”) outlined how it had brought these Michigan basket makers and others from northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada together to examine a collection of baskets at the NMAI’s Cultural Research Center as part of a program to help preserve their heritage, and help bring it alive to others in the tribes. The basket makers were asked to provide information they may know about the baskets, which varied in age and type. Some of the baskets also helped fill in missing information about past methods of making baskets that these women were unaware of, or had not seen earlier. The information gleaned from the interaction will help the Cultural Research Center’s basket collection become a source of history, knowledge and learning for other Native basket makers and their students.

According to the article, Kelly Church encourages other to come to the NMAI’s Cultural Resource Center to learn more about this generations-old activity. She believes her ancestors are always with her and are happy when the baskets are still being used. She also believes the art of basket making is far from dead. “You can still be living as you are dying.” She is using her artistry to show how EAB is destroying black ash, and has used other types of materials to demonstrate what happens when there is a shortage of it.

Renee has replaced the black ash with cedar and basswood to weave baskets and bags, and she still teaches basket making. Her young grandchildren recently wove with her, and she hopes they will remember how important this is to her culture.

Cherish hopes that the focus on sustaining black ash baskets can lead to more of their use as a household item as they once were, in addition to their artistic beauty "so that they may have more of a place outside of the art world again."

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Read the article about black ash basket making and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian here.

If you are interested in saving ash seeds, see the information available here.  

DON'T MOVE FIREWOOD!

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