Emerald Ash Borer infestation found in St. Peter

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Jul. 15—The Free Press

ST. PETER — The invasive insect species emerald ash borer has been found in St. Peter, city officials announced Thursday.

St. Peter Public Works Director Pete Moulton said the city is working with the owner of the private property on the south side of town where the infested tree is located.

A concerned resident recently reported evidence of the destructive bug.

City staff and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture confirmed the tree's bark cracks and canopy damage were the result of an EAB infestation.

The insect's larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk.

St. Peter city officials are offering tips for residents checking for the insect:

—Be sure you've identified an ash tree, since EAB only feeds on ash trees. Ash trees have opposite branching — branches that come off the trunk directly across from each other. Bark on older trees forms a tight, diamond-shaped pattern. Younger trees have a relatively smooth bark.

—Look for woodpecker damage. The birds like to eat EAB larvae and woodpecker holes may indicate the insect's presence.

—Check for bark cracks. EAB larvae tunneling under an ash tree's bark can cause the bark to split open. The cracks may reveal the S-shaped larval tunnels underneath.

St. Peter residents who believe their ash trees may be infested should contact the Public Works Department or a professional tree care provider. Reports also may be made to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture by sending an email to: arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or by calling 888-545-6684 and leaving a voicemail.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture first confirmed emerald ash borer in Nicollet and Redwood counties in 2021.

Thirty-five Minnesota counties, including Blue Earth County, now have EAB. The pest was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009.

Residents of counties where EAB has been found should be aware of quarantine restrictions on the movement of organic products such as ash trees, wood chips and firewood.

Firewood should be purchased locally from approved vendors and burned at sites close to where the purchase was made.