Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestations are in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, and now northeast Sioux Falls, as of last summer. The insect infestations have resulted in the loss of more than 60 million ash trees so far in the United States and Canada.

The EAB is native to Asia and was accidently introduced into Michigan in the 1990s. No green, blue or black ash trees have enough resistance to overcome the exotic EAB. Without treatment that lasts the life of the tree, these infected ash trees die. The EAB does not attack non-ash trees.

Native Ash trees, long favorites as hardy shade trees, have resistance to many native insects. But the EAB cuts off the water and food supply in the tree trunk as its larvae burrow under the bark and feed on wood. The infected tree dies back from lack of water and food and the limbs and trunk become brittle.

For a primer on EAB, go to www.extension.sdstate.edu and search for the article: “How to Identify an Ash Tree Infected by Emerald Ash Borer,” by Dr. John Ball, Forest Health Specialist for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Extension Forester SD Cooperative Extension.

“’Ash snap,’ it’s called online for EAB infested trees,” said Lisa Kortan, Yankton urban forestry specialist. “Inside the infested tree turns to sawdust and the tree becomes unstable.”

This causes safety and litigation issues taking down these infested trees in public areas for the city and for property owners.

Yankton officials decided that the expense and chaos of removing infested trees is deemed greater and more problematic than removing the ash trees that are doomed to die, rather than wait until EAB begins infesting Yankton trees. A few ash trees will be chemically treated when EAB is within 15 miles of Yankton.

“I have an ash tree in my yard that’s a part of our Tabor Czech Days celebration every year,” Kortan said. “I will treat it with chemicals. I planted trees on either side of it. When they are good size, I’ll take down the ash tree. I will treat it about 15 years once EAB is 15 miles from here. It will require at least six treatments. Box stores do sell chemical drenches that can be applied by homeowners, but they don’t work on larger trees.

“If you hire a licensed chemical applicator to treat the tree, that’s about $150, every two years per tree. I have my certified chemical applicator license to treat it, so the cost is about half that for me. It’s a beautiful shade tree. Can I afford treating the tree from now on? How many trees could I pay for to plant in the yard for $450?” Kortan said.

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