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Emerald ash borer in Minnesota

Quick facts

Emerald ash borer is a quarantined invasive speciesItems that could transport this insect may not be moved without permission from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. 

  • The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a very destructive insect pest of ash trees.
  • EAB attacks all species of North American ash.
  • Once an ash is attacked by EAB, it will be killed if it is not protected.
  • Ash trees can be protected from EAB with available insecticides.
  • EAB will move only about one half to one mile a year from infested sites. But people can carry it hundreds of miles when transporting firewood and other wood products or nursery stock.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture monitors this invasive species. Please report any EAB you spot at Arrest the Pest.

Current status: Active

The active period typically begins in May and ends in early October.

Because EAB can fly and infest nearby ash trees, avoid removing ash branches, stumps and trees. Only prune or remove trees if absolutely necessary and transport wood to the nearest ash tree waste disposal site.

Three tips to limit the spread of EAB

1. Know what to look for.

  • Be aware of what emerald ash borer looks like as well as the symptoms of an EAB-infested tree. Use this diagnostic tool to see if you can clearly rule out EAB.

2. Report any suspected insects or declining ash trees.

  • If you can't easily rule out EAB, contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) on their Arrest the Pest phone line at 1-888-545-6684 or arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us to report your suspicions. There have been many cases where the public was the first to find an initial infestation in an area.

3. Don't move firewood.

  • Most EAB will generally move only about one-half to one mile a year from infested sites. But with help from people, it can travel hundreds of miles when carried in firewood and other wood products or nursery stock. Don't transport firewood when you go camping or are buying it for home use. Buy the wood you need at local sites or at the campgrounds you are visiting.

Why be concerned about emerald ash borer?

Emerald ash borer on leaf.

Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) attacks ash trees from as small as one-inch diameter to large mature trees.

This exotic borer is a native of Asia. It was first found in Minnesota in May 2009, in St. Paul. EAB has also been found in many other states. It has also been discovered in Ontario and Quebec, Canada.

The destructive beetle has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees where it has been discovered.

  • There are nearly one billion ash trees in Minnesota, one of the largest concentrations of ash in the country.
  • Ash trees are abundant in Minnesota forests as well as in urban landscapes.
  • Research has found little to no resistance to EAB in our native ash.
  • EAB has also been found to attack white fringe tree, not commonly planted in Minnesota.

EAB is a type of metallic wood-boring beetle (family Buprestidae). It is a little larger and much more brightly colored than bronze birch borers and two-lined chestnut borers.

How to identify emerald ash borer


Adult emerald ash borer on tree leaf
EAB adult
  • 1/3 to 1/2-inch-long slender body.
  • Widest just behind the head, gradually tapering back to the abdomen.
  • Bright iridescent green to copper-green.
  • May have a copper-colored area behind the head.
  • Purplish magenta underneath wings.


EAB larva in wood
  • 1 to 1-1/4 inches when fully grown.
  • White, flat body with a small brownish head.
  • No legs.
  • A pair of small pincer-like appendages on the tip of the abdomen.

If you think you have EAB damage on your tree, first make sure your tree is an ash tree. Use this ash tree identification chart from Michigan State University. 

You may notice insects other than EAB attacking ash. The redheaded ash borer, bark beetles and clearwing borers are the most common native ash borers in Minnesota. See Native borers and Insects in Minnesota confused with emerald ash borer.

Damage caused by emerald ash borer

Ash can tolerate small numbers of EAB larvae. But, as the pest rapidly increases in numbers, the trees are girdled and killed.


What to do about EAB


Authors: Jeff Hahn and Matt Russell

Reviewed in 2023

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