by Carl Strang

The emerald ash borer has become a common tree-killer in northeast Illinois. I knew it was likely that, sooner or later, the green ash in my front yard would become infested, and now it has happened. My tree held out longer than most of the ashes in my subdivision, but it was on the decline before the borers came along, and now the symptoms are clear.

The top branches are dying, and the tree is responding by producing a dense growth of lower shoots (only a small part of that bunch of green is the tree’s Virginia creeper vine). This is a typical pattern, as the beetles lay eggs in the top of the tree first.

I haven’t yet seen the diagnostic D-shaped exit holes made by emerging adults of these bark beetles, but one of the lower dying branches had several woodpecker holes which are a further clue.

There were a number of holes just like this one, made by a woodpecker extracting a larva.

So, sometime within the next few months I’ll have to have the ash removed, and I am contemplating what kind of tree to put in its place.

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