A small, metallic-green bug from China could soon wreak havoc on the tree population of Superior, Wis.
City officials have received confirmation of the presence of emerald ash borer in Superior’s North End.
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection placed Douglas County under quarantine Thursday as a result.
“While it’s disappointing to have found [the ash borer] in a new location so far from other infestations, and in close proximity to our north woods, it is not surprising, given the ease with which this pest can hitchhike with the help of humans,” said Brian Kuhn, director of the Bureau of Plant Industry with DATCP, in a statement.
City crews found the infected tree on the public boulevard Aug. 7.
“We actually found a dead specimen in the first tree, and we called the hot line,” said Mary Morgan, parks and recreation administrator and city forester. “They said ‘send us a series of high-resolution photos of the symptoms you’re seeing.’ ”
Morgan said she and arborist John Krivinchuk went back to the neighborhood, and they saw a good panorama of suckering and dieback. She said they also saw vertical cuts in the trees, “and we actually saw the thing.”
City officials sent the samples to the DATCP, which confirmed the city’s suspicions that emerald ash borer indeed reached Superior.
The bug previously hadn’t been found north of the Twin Cities or any farther north than Brown or Trempealeau counties in Wisconsin.
The emerald ash borer, an import from China, has killed millions of trees in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois over the past decade. It has no natural enemies here. The adult bugs lay their eggs on the ash tree, and the larvae burrow into the tree where they eat into parts of the tree that carry water and nutrients to the canopy. Trees affected typically died in one to four years.
Duluth News Tribune staff writer John Myers contributed to this report.