Check the ash trees in your farmyard and shelterbelt. A major pest of ash trees - the emerald ash borer - has been founded near LaCrosse, Wis., on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border.
"This is the farthest west an infestation has been detected in our region," says John Ball, South Dakota State University Extension forestry specialist "Considering its size and the distance from other infestations, it raises the concern that there may be, and most likely are, undetected infestations even farther west."
It's possible that South Dakota already has an infestation, Ball says.
"It is probably only a matter of time, a rather short time, perhaps a year or two, before an infestation will be detected in South Dakota. When it is found, most likely it will have been established in the general vicinity for several years or more. No one ever finds the first borer in the first tree in a state. It is critical that people be observant of pockets of dead and dying ash and report these as soon as possible."
Look for dead or dying ash trees with extensive bark injury from woodpeckers, Ball advises. The birds will be feeding on emerald ash borer larvae.
Foresters believe the emerald ash borer arrived in Michigan in the 1990s on ash packing materials from Asia. The insect has caused the loss of more than 30 million ash trees in the Upper Midwest so far.
Source: SDSU AgBio Communications