Emerald Ash Borer Moving West

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has officially been located in an infected tree in Kearney. This tiny emerald colored pest fits on a penny, and has slowly moved its way across Nebraska. On it’s own ability, this pest moves very slowly. Moving infested firewood along Interstate 80 is a prime way to speed up the movement of this destructive pest.

The Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Nebraska Extension have worked together to follow the movement of EAB in Nebraska, identifying samples and conducting outreach education on how trees on private and public property how to respond and treat infestations now and in the future.

How does the announcement of EAB in Kearney impact private and public properties in western Nebraska? Laurie Stepanek, Forest Health Specialist with the Nebraska Forest Service has shared simple instructions to follow and recommendations for the region.

First, residents in Kearney and surrounding communities that have ash tree species on their respective properties need to make plans to either treat or remove the trees. The best time for treatment is in the spring, but tree care professionals who carry out tree injections, could treat trees in the summer.

Second, treatment and removal should now be conducted within a 15 mile treatment zones in all directions from Kearney. Treatment should only be carried out in these treatment zones. According to Stepanek, this recommendation strikes treating high value trees and unnecessary insecticide treatments in the area. Treatment outside of this area is not necessary unless an EAB infestation has been confirmed in another location, establishing another treatment zone.

Beware of “fly by night” tree services that will offer to treat trees that are not from this area that suddenly appear to offer their services. It is a wise idea to ask for professional tree care credentials, arborist license, proof of liability insurance, and license to work in a respective community if it is required in where impacted trees are located. Credible professionals will gladly provide these credentials prior to treatment on private or public property.

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Ash trees need to be evaluated for their shade and landscape value to decides which trees to decide to treat with injections. Selected trees for treatment should be healthy without any large dead or dying branches, mower damage, root or trunk damage. Trees selected for treatment will require continuous treatment for the rest of a tree’s life. This commitment to regular treatment can become costly to a homeowner or on a public space. The decision to treat high value trees should be carefully considered before beginning the treatment process.

Untreated trees in these zones will eventually be infested and die from EAB. These trees will need to be removed and destroyed as recommended by the Nebraska Forest Service. Some may choose to remove ash trees outside of the treatment zone, and replace with a variety of trees species to avoid wholesale replanting of another tree species. Once again, be careful to choose a quality and reputable tree service to remove trees, using the same selection criteria for treating selected high value trees.

Choosing a variety of tree species that are well adapted to western Nebraska will be very important for successful established tree species diversification now and in the future. Following proper tree planting and care recommendations will be essential for successful tree establishment.

Nebraska Forest Service and Nebraska Extension have a variety of credible resources for individuals to learn about EAB, EAB treatment, recommended replacement trees, and tree planting recommendations. Here are some links to these critical resources.

Nebraska Forest Service’s Emerald Ash Borer resource page can be found at for information about EAB, community planning in relation to EAB, recommendations for homeowners and public properties. This page has a variety of resources to help answer many questions related to EAB.

Another great resource is called “Tree Care Basics” by Rachel Allison with the Nebraska Forest Service, based in North Platte. Carrying out these recommendations can increase the health and longevity of trees in the region. This great resource can be found at to read and follow.

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A list of recommended tree species that thrive in western Nebraska in home and public landscapes has been compiled by Rachel Allison with the Nebraska Forest Service. This list is available by contacting me by calling (308) 532-2683 at the Nebraska Extension Office in North Platte, or by sending an email message to to assist with tree related questions.

–Nebraska Extension Office