Emerald Ash Borer expands presence into Saunders County

LINCOLN, Neb. -- State and federal agriculture officials have confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer in Saunders County.

The Nebraska Forest Service collected an EAB larva from a tree on private land near Ashland. EAB, an invasive beetle that attacks and kills ash trees, was first found in Nebraska in June 2016.

“While it’s unfortunate EAB was found in Saunders County, it is not unexpected considering we have confirmed infestations in the neighboring counties of Douglas, Sarpy and Cass,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman.

EAB is a small, metallic-green beetle that is about ½ inch long. The larvae of this wood-boring insect tunnel under the bark of ash trees, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients, ultimately causing the tree to die. EAB-infested ash trees will exhibit thinning or dying branches in the top of the tree, S-shaped larval galleries under bark, D-shaped exit holes and suckers (along the trunk and main branches).

In an effort to slow the spread of EAB, state officials enacted the Nebraska EAB Quarantine in June 2016. Currently eight counties are regulated under this quarantine, including Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Lancaster, Otoe, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington. Agriculture Department staff set and monitor traps across Nebraska looking for additional emerald ash borer infestations. Staff also check for EAB by inspecting trees, nursery stock and firewood, and confirming compliance with state and federal regulations. Officials will consider changes to the existing quarantine later this fall, after all traps have been taken down.

The quarantine order prohibits distribution of ash nursery stock from within or out of the quarantine area, and regulates the movement of hardwood firewood and mulch, ash timber products and green waste material out of quarantined areas.

“While we can’t completely eliminate EAB, quarantines and innovative ideas like using biocontrol agents, help slow the spread of this destructive insect,” said Director Wellman. “That gives homeowners and municipalities across the state additional time to consider their options and make decisions about the future of their ash trees.”

If you feel you have located an EAB infestation, you are asked to report it to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2351, the Nebraska Forest Service at (402) 472-2944, or your local USDA office at (402) 434-2345.

Additional information on EAB and the quarantine, can be found on the Nebraska Department of Agriculture website. Additional information on EAB and Nebraska-specific recommendations for homeowners and municipalities can be found on the Nebraska Forest Service website.