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Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

The emerald ash borer is smaller than a penny.
EAB are smaller than a penny.
(Howard Russell, MI State U.
www.forestryimages.org)
image of emerald ash borer showing a coppery red upper abdomen
Notice the coppery red color of
the EAB's upper abdomen.

The emerald ash borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis) is an invasive beetle from Asia that infests and kills North American ash species (Fraxinus sp.) including green, white, black and blue ash. All of New York's native ash trees are susceptible to EAB.

EAB Identification

The emerald ash borer is a very small but very destructive beetle. It has four life stages: adult, egg, larva and pupa. The adult beetle has a shiny emerald green body with a coppery red or purple abdomen. The beetle can measure 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. Adult beetles leave distinctive D-shaped exit holes in the outer bark of the branches and the trunk. Adults are roughly 3/8 to 5/8 inch long with metallic green wing covers and a coppery red or purple abdomen. They may be present from late May through early September but are most common in June and July.

Signs of Damage

Signs of infection in the tree canopy include dieback, yellowing, and browning of leaves.

larval galleries on ash tree
S-shaped larval galleries may be
visible as an infested tree's bark
falls off or is removed.
EAB larva
EAB larvae can reach 2 3/4 inches long.
Photo: David Cappaert

Increased woodpecker activity is often the first sign of an EAB infestation. This activity can lead to "blonding", or large strips of bark falling off. On the trunk and branches, look for small, D-shaped holes that are left by emerging beetles. When the tree's bark splits or falls off, S-shaped larval galleries may be visible.

View this visual guide to what an EAB infestation looks like (PDF). Most trees die within 2 to 4 years of becoming infested.

How EAB Spread

Adult EABs typically fly less than ½ mile from their emergence tree. Most long-distance movement of EAB has been directly traced to ash firewood or ash nursery stock. Other untreated ash wood, wood chips greater than one inch, and ash product movement (logs, lumber, pallets, etc.) generally present lesser risks. Wood chips less than one inch or mulch are considered to pose little risk of movement. New York State currently has a regulation restricting the movement of firewood to protect our forests from invasive pests.

Confirmed New York State Locations

The first infestation of emerald ash borer (EAB) in New York State was discovered in Cattaraugus County in 2009. The following year, EAB was found across the state along the Hudson River Valley. In 2017, EAB was found in the northern reaches of the state in Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties. EAB infestations are now present in more than 40 counties in New York.

DEC works with partners such as NYC Parks and Cornell Cooperative Extension to detect and confirm infestations across the state.

Current Efforts

While DEC is still collecting new EAB location information, we are not actively managing infestations.

New York has a regulation to restrict the movement of firewood of any tree species to within 50 miles of its source or origin. If you must move ash wood that is not firewood, be sure to follow DEC's guidelines on moving ash wood responsibly. The firewood regulation remains unchanged and in effect despite the changing or lifting of any EAB quarantines.

EAB is listed as a prohibited invasive species by 6 NYCRR Part 575. Under this regulation, no person shall sell, import, purchase, transport, introduce or propagate, or have the intent to take any of these actions on the regulated species, unless issued a permit by DEC for research, education, or other approved activity.

DEC is also cooperating in efforts to identify potentially resistant "lingering ash" trees (leaves DEC website) in areas thoroughly infested with EAB, and to conserve ash seed (leaves DEC website) for future restoration efforts. 

What to Do if You Have Found EAB

After reviewing the identification material on this website, if you think you have found EAB and are outside of the known infestation areas in New York State:

  1. Take photos of the insect and/or signs of damage.
  2. Email photos and location information to us at foresthealth@dec.ny.gov.

DEC staff will analyze the photos and may reach out for more information to determine if it is EAB. Photos and confirmation from DEC are required for a new location to be added to the infestation map. You may also call DEC's Forest Health information line at 1-866-640-0652.

DEC can confirm if the signs of tree damage are from EAB and provide tree removal information, but unfortunately there are no DEC programs to assist landowners with tree removal.

Importance of Ash

Ash is a very common street tree in many New York communities. It was widely planted to replace native elms lost to Dutch elm disease. In Michigan, the first state in the U.S. infested with EAB, the greatest economic impact has been on communities faced with removal of thousands of dead ash on streets and in yards. Many of these dead trees pose significant public safety hazards and liability problems for municipalities.

Ash is also a common and valuable forest species. Ash seeds are a food source for birds and mammals. Ash species (white, green and black) comprise almost 8% of all trees in NY State. Ash is a commercially-valuable species, and is used for baseball bats, flooring, furniture, lumber, and pallet manufacture. Black ash is also prized by Native American tribes, including the Akwesasne, for traditional basket making. The estimated annual contribution of forest-based manufacturing and forest related recreation and tourism to the New York State economy is over $9 billion.

Insects That Look Similar to EAB

The insects below are often mistaken for emerald ash borer beetle.


Bronze birch borer
(Agrilus anxius)
Japanese beetle Popillia japonica
Japanese beetle
(Popillia japonica)
Six-spotted tiger beetle Cicendela sexguttata
Six-spotted tiger beetle
(Cicendela sexguttata)
Metalic wood borer Dicerca divaricata
Metalic wood borer
(Dicerca divaricate)
Metalic wood borer Buprestis striata
Metalic wood borer
(Buprestis striata)
Tow-lined chestnut borer Agrilus bilineatus
Two-lined chestnut borer
(Agrilus bilineatus)

Additional Resources

 
 
 

More about Emerald Ash Borer (EAB):