Public can weigh in on ash borer

FAIRMONT — Pests are, well, pests. They not only have the ability to pop up where they are least wanted, but are often difficult to control.

One such pest is the emerald ash borer, a type of beetle that has been confirmed to have found a home in Martin County.

The invasive species lays eggs in bark crevices on ash trees, and larvae feed underneath the bark of the trees to emerge as adults in one to two years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed several EAB were found in a trap northeast of Welcome on Aug. 22. In response, an emergency was placed on the area.

Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by invasive insect. The state has about 1 billion ash trees, the most of any state in the nation.

Kimberly Thielen Cremers, pest mitigation and regulatory response unit supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, explained how the discovery was made.

“The state of Minnesota gets surveyed at a grid base across the state,” she said. “It’s a randomized grid that the USDA actually contracts out, so they have staff across the state placing these early detection traps. It gives us an indication of the presence of the emerald ash borer in these areas.

“The traps are an early detection tool,” she continued. “At this stage, we don’t know how widespread the population is. We’ll do further surveys, and we rely very heavily on citizens to report ash impacts or declines.”

Cremers also discussed what the emergency quarantine entails, as well as what steps will be taken to enact a formal quarantine.

“In order to contain the infestation, the emergency quarantine was put in place with the goal of minimizing artificial movement of the ash borer itself, as well as any species of ash. The significant thing for most people is the quarantine on all species of hardwood firewood.”

Residents of Martin County are invited to a public meeting on Wednesday regarding the discovery of emerald ash borer in the county. Experts from the MDA, University of Minnesota, and other state and federal agencies will be available to answer questions.

Those in attendance will have an opportunity to gather more information on the emerald ash borer and local options to deal with the insect. They will also learn how they can limit the spread of the bug, as well as weigh in on adoption of formal quarantine of Martin County.

The MDA will take comments on the formal quarantine through Oct. 10, and proposes to adopt the quarantine on Oct. 16.

The meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in room 103 of the Martin County Courthouse at 201 Lake Ave. in Fairmont.

Questions can be sent ahead of time to arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us. People can also use the email address to submit reports about suspect insects or plants.

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