Ash borer

The emerald ash borer has been found in Washington County.

Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Washington County, agriculture officials said Monday.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) said the invasive beetle was found in a tree.

It was also confirmed in a trap in Seward County. It is the first detection of the ash borer in both counties. The NDA did not identify where in the county the insect was found.

EAB, which attacks and kills ash trees, was first found in Omaha in 2016. The most recent discovery was earlier this year in Kearney.

“While both of these finds of EAB are unfortunate, they are not unexpected,” NDA Director Steve Wellman said. “We encourage people to continue to educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of EAB in ash trees and report any signs of potential infestations.”

EAB is a small, metallic-green beetle that is about a half 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.

Arlington could lose hundreds of trees if EAB makes its way into the village, which has nearly 300 ash trees on public ground in the downtown area, around the auditorium and in Bell Creek Park.

Streets and Parks Commissioner Jon Rosenthal said he has not yet been notified if there is an instance of EAB in the village.

"I haven't noticed any yet, not by looking at the trees," he said. "We've taken a few ash trees out in the past few years but when looking through them we haven't seen any in there."

Rosenthal said they take the trees that don't look healthy out and replace them with other trees.

"We haven't treated any of our trees for emerald ash borers and have maybe taken out eight trees over the past few years," he said. "We've been pretty lucky so far."

In Blair, Pat Long, cemetery and parks superintendent, said the city has about 30 ash trees in its parks. Al Schoemaker, public works director, said there are 391 ash trees along city streets in the public right of way.

However, Long said he hasn't seen any evidence of EAB in Blair's parks.

“We sure haven't seen any,” Long said. “We had some that died out of natural causes. We just took those down (Tuesday). We didn't seen anything in them.”

Long said if the city parks crews see any ash trees deteriorating, they will cut them down.

Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Lancaster, Otoe, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington counties remain under a quarantine, first issued in 2016 and updated in 2018, which includes prohibiting ash nursery stock from leaving the quarantine area and regulating the movement of hardwood firewood and mulch, ash timber products and green waste material out of quarantined areas. Quarantines are put in place to reduce the human-assisted spread of EAB into non-infested areas. NDA and USDA staff work with the public and impacted industries to ensure compliance of quarantines. NDA will make any updates to the state EAB quarantine this fall, after adult flight is over and trapping has been completed.

The Nebraska EAB Working Group, which includes NDA, the USDA, Nebraska Game and Parks and the Nebraska Forest Services, offers the following suggestions to help prevent the human-assisted spread of the insect:

• Use locally-sourced firewood, burning it in the same county where you purchased it, as EAB can easily be moved in firewood.

• Consider treating healthy, high-value ash tress located within a 15-mile radius of a known infestation. Treatment will need to be continually reapplied and will only prolong the tree’s life, not save it. Trees that are experiencing declining health should be considered for removal.

• If you are in a non-infested county and think you have located an EAB infestation, please 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.

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