NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife officials caution hunters to avoid placing treestands in or near ash trees weakened by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle.
Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a non-native insect pest that infests and kills all species of ash trees in North America.
Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in New Jersey in May 2014 in Somerset County. Infestations throughout the U.S. and Canada have killed tens of millions of ash trees since 2002.
The adult EAB is approximately 1/2” long and 1/8” wide, metallic green in color, with a metallic copper red abdomen. The larvae are white or cream colored, measure approximately 1 to 1 ¼” long and have 10 abdominal segments that are bell shaped. The EAB has a 1-year lifecycle, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
EAB first infest the top of the tree’s crown, which makes spotting adult beetles or exit holes nearly impossible from the ground. Woodpecker activity and damage on live trees is often an initial symptom of an EAB infestation. As EAB populations increase, crown dieback, epicormic branching, bark splits, and exit holes lower on the bole become more prevalent. Trees will only live an average of 3-4 years after infestation and 99% of ash trees will die.
Officials said that approximately 9% of the state’s total forested area, or 24.7 million ash trees, are susceptible to an EAB infestation. Most of the ash is concentrated in the north-western part of the state.
In addition, ash has been commonly planted as street trees and on private properties in many cities and towns. Trees infested with EAB on public and private lands in urban areas will pose the greatest danger where falling branches have the potential to hit people, structures, or cars.
“Beetle damage is not always visible even after the structure of the tree is compromised. Evaluate any tree carefully, but note that ash trees may die quickly,” officials said.