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What Is The Emerald Ash Borer

What Is The Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer, (Agrilus planipennis ), is an exotic green buprestid or jewel beetle that was first discovered in the United States in southeastern Michigan (outside the greater Detroit area) in mid-2002. Adult Emerald Ash Borers eat away on ash tree foliage but tend to cause very insignificant damage to them. Their larvae however (in their immature stage) survive in the inner bark of ash trees, infringing on the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients properly. Emerald Ash Borers likely arrived in the United States in whole pieces of wood packing material carried on cargo ships or via air. They originate from parts of Asia. Since October 2018, Emerald Ash Borers can be found in 35 states, including the American North East (New England) and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

an invasive species?

Emerald Ash Borers are considered an invasive species and because much of the beetles’ origins are unknown, only a general origin location, the United States conducts most of the biological research on them. Great effort has been made to curb their negative effects by attempting to control and monitor their spread include; diversifying tree species populations, use insecticides and other biological control methods.

Emerald Ash Borer


Adult Emerald Ash Borers are a bright metallic green color and measure around a third of an inch (8.5 mm) in length and less than a tenth of an inch wide (1.6 mm). Emerald Ash Borers are the only North American variation of Agrilus beetles with a bright red upper abdomen when viewed when their wings are spread. Emerald Ash Borers also have a small spine at the tip of their abdomen and serrated antennae. They leave tracks inside trees they damage, and can be sometimes seen under the bark with the naked eye.

Emerald Ash Borer


The canopy of an ash tree under attack from Emerald Ash Borers will initially begin to look thin and become gradually more yellow in color. Within the year of these initial signs, arborists indicate that half of the tree’s branches may start to die. Look for brittle and dryness in them. You may also notice deep splits in the bark, tunneling grooves under the back, and D-shaped holes. Ash trees, like others, produce ‘suckers’ at the trunk, which is its attempt to grow new branches.


Ash trees are considered a precious tree despite their abundance in North American woodlands trees. Emerald Ash Borers have destroyed upwards of 40 million ash trees in the Midwestern United States alone and tens of millions throughout other states including Northeastern Massachusetts. Smaller and newer ash trees can die after only one to two years of infestation, while larger ash trees that get infested may survive for three to four years. Heavy infestations of Emerald Ash Borer larvae quicken the damage of previously strong ash trees.

It is therefore critical to spot an Emerald Ash Borers infestation before they reach a damaging level. 

Emerald Ash Borer


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also has some preventative recommendations help manage Emerald Ash Borers:

Call the USDA Emerald Ash Borer Hotline at 1-866-322-4512 or your local USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) office if you think you’ve found an infestation. Contact information for your local APHIS office is located on the USDA’s website.


  • Record the area where you found Emerald Ash Borers and take photos of the insect along with any damage, if possible.
  • Don’t move firewood from your property or carry it across state lines.
  • Buy firewood from local sources only.
  • Buy kiln-dried firewood where possible.
  • Before spring, burn your remaining firewood supply to eliminate any Emerald Ash Borers from spreading to live ash trees.


If you suspect an Emerald Ash Borer infestation (or any pest infestation) on your property’s tree population, contact Mayer Tree Service. We are the most qualified and best-certified experts in the Northeastern Massachusetts area.

If you have questions about tree service or plant health care or would like an estimate, give us a call at 978-768-6999 or click here to contact us.

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