Don’t be fooled by the cold weather; EAB has plenty of life left.
Headlines have been circulating suggesting that EAB may “have met its match.” Although the Midwest experienced abnormally cold temperatures this winter, it is unlikely EAB populations felt these effects as significantly as your heating bill. EAB, as well as most insects in colder climates, are effective at surviving cold temperatures. One way they survive the cold is by producing an antifreeze-like substance that prevents water in their cells from crystallizing and causing damage. Also the extra insulation provided by the tree bark helps larvae withstand such cold temperatures. For EAB larvae overwintering within ash trees, death occurs when temperatures reach -28 degrees Fahrenheit.
A model produced by U.S. Forest Service scientists predicts areas in North America where temperatures were cold enough to kill EAB larvae. This model suggests that in the U.S., only northern parts of Minnesota and North Dakota have reached frigid enough temperatures to affect EAB populations.
Although some parts of the United States may have fewer adults emerging in the spring as a result of the cold temperatures, they probably won’t notice. Due to a high reproductive rate, it will likely be only a matter of time before populations rebound to previous levels.
Despite the cold weather, experts are still advising to continue with EAB management plans. One effective means of saving ash trees and reducing management costs is to partner with interested neighbors and hire a company to treat trees in your neighborhood. This collaborative approach will likely reduce transportation and consultation costs for the company, and the savings will be passed down to homeowners.
For more information on EAB, treatment options and NABB (Neighbors Against Bad Bugs), visit Emerald Ash Borer in Indiana, Purdue Extension website.
Adam Witte, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Department of Entomology
Matthew Ginzel, Associate Professor
Departments of Entomology & Forestry and Natural Resources