The search for the dreaded emerald ash borer gets underway today (Thursday) in much of the state. Right now, we don't have the emerald ash borer in Wisconsin, and with a little detective work and prevention, officials hope to keep it that way.
"We're going to check approximately almost 6,000 trees. There's 1,400 ash trees that we have already designated that we're going to cut down and peel the bark to see if there's any emerald ash borer larvae in those trees."
Jane Larson with the Ag Department says they'll be doing something called " girdling " in another 4,400 trees. "We'll take off a ring of bark around the base of the tree, but leave those trees standing. Then next fall or winter we're going to go back to those girdle trees, because they'll act as a lure. And if there's any emerald ash borers in the area, hopefully they'll be lured to those girdled trees and we'll be able to see if there's any infestation again."
The survey area includes all or parts of 30 counties. Larson says the emerald ash borer infestation was first found in Michigan in 2002, but this summer the bugs were found a little too close for comfort … in the Chicago area, and is responsible for killing millions of ash trees. Larson says the invasive species don't move very fast, but they make their way around with the help of people, more specifically, clinging to firewood. There are an estimated 717 million ash trees in Wisconsin forests, and many more in urban areas and residential yards.
At this time, the survey is concentrating on trees along state, county and municipal roads. Survey counties include: Adams, Brown, Calumet, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marquette, Milwaukee, Oconto, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Sauk, Shawano, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca and Winnebago. The bugs first came to the US in pallets and shipping crates from Asia, and now through the states attached to fireword.