Johnson County has a new, unwelcome resident. The Kansas Department of Agriculture confirmed July 15 that a destructive beetle called the emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis, has been found in Johnson County.

The invasive, wood-boring pest can infest and kill native ash trees, including saplings to fully mature trees, according to Nicole Opbroek, Kansas Forest Service forest health specialist.

The EAB news prompted the KDA to implement an emergency intrastate quarantine for Johnson County, similar to a permanent quarantine in place for Wyandotte County, where EAB was confirmed in August 2012. Wyandotte and Johnson counties are the only two Kansas counties where EAB has been found.

The quarantine applies to individuals, companies and government agencies, among others, and prohibits movement from the quarantined area of firewood of all hardwood species; Ash (Fraxinus) trees including nursery stock and green lumber, as well as wood chips, logs, stumps and branches of trees. More information about the quarantine order is available at

Opbroek said there are several things property owners can do to help in detection and to impede the spread of the pest, which include:

•       Don’t move firewood. EAB can be transported long distances in firewood. When you camp, leave your wood at home. Buy only local firewood, and burn it before you leave. Once transported into new areas, EAB can become established and kill local trees.

•       When planting new trees, avoid planting ash trees.

•       Emerald ash borer only attacks ash trees, so it’s important to determine if your trees are ash trees. Ash tree branches have opposites growing on either side of the main branch, rather than a branch on one side and another 2-3 inches further down on the other side.

•       If you have an ash tree, assess its health. Look for sparse leaves or branches dying in the upper part of the tree, vertical splits in the bark, new sprouts on the roots or lower trunk or branches, increased woodpecker activity, winding s-shaped tunnels under the bark or light-colored larvae with bell-shaped segments just under the bark. Two or more of these symptoms may indicate a problem.

•       Check for holes in ash trees. What shape are they? EAB makes D-shaped holes (not round or oval).

•       If you’re unsure if your ash tree has EAB, call your local extension office or a certified arborist

“Unfortunately, we all knew that this day could come,” said Dennis Patton, horticulture agent for Johnson County K-State Research and Extension. “Ash has been a very popular and beloved tree, and now we are faced with losing them. The best recommendation at this time is not to panic. You have time to assess your situation and determine the best course of action, which can range from treatment to letting nature run its course. We are not sure at this time how fast EAB will move through the area. This issue also underscores the importance of planting a mix of trees.”

The widespread drought stress that shade trees have been experiencing the past two years, has made trees even more vulnerable to insect attacks than usual, including the emerald ash borer, Patton said.

Before any action is taken, it’s important to assess the health and value of the tree, he said. Preventive treatment options are available, but should only be considered for trees that are healthy and a value to the landscape.

More information is available at and

The Kansas Forest Service, based in Manhattan, Kan., is affiliated with the Kansas State University College of Agriculture and its Department of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreational Resources.