Emerald Ash Borer - Questions and Answers

What is the emerald ash borer?

The emerald ash borer is a highly destructive invasive beetle. It is a pest of ash trees. It was confirmed as present in Canada in the summer of 2002.

It has killed a large number of ash trees in North America and poses a major economic and environmental threat to urban and forested areas across Canada and the United States.

What does the emerald ash borer look like?

The beetle is metallic green in colour and is 8.5 to 14.0 millimetres long (about ½ inch) and 3.1 to 3.4 millimetres wide (½ inch). While the back of the insect is an iridescent, metallic green, the underside is a bright emerald green. The body is narrow and elongated, and the head is flat. The eyes are kidney shaped and usually black.

Emerald ash borer larvae are white and flat, with distinctive bell-shaped segments, and can grow up to 30 millimetres long (1 inch).

What trees species are susceptible to attack by the emerald ash borer?

In North America, the emerald ash borer has been found to attack and kill all North American species of ash (Fraxinus spp.). The mountain ash (Sorbus spp.) is not related to ash trees and the insect does not attack that tree.

Infested ash trees in North America generally die after two to three years, but heavily infested trees have been observed to die after only one year of beetle attack.

How serious a threat is the emerald ash borer?

The emerald ash borer poses a very serious threat to all species of ash trees throughout their range in the United States and Canada.

During the relatively short time that the emerald ash borer has been in North America, it is believed to have killed millions of trees in the United States and Canada, with billions more across North America at risk of infestation and death.

What is the importance of ash trees?

Ash trees are an important part of Canada's urban and rural landscape. They are commonly found on city streets, in woodlots, in windbreaks and in forests across southern Canada. In many areas of western Canada, ash trees are one of the few suitable for planting in urban areas.

Ash wood is also used to make furniture, hardwood floors, baseball bats, tool handles, electric guitars, hockey sticks and other materials that require high strength and resilience.

Where did the emerald ash borer come from? How did it get to Canada? How long has it been here?

The emerald ash borer is native to China and eastern Asia. It was found in North America in 2002. In May 2002, it was discovered in southeastern Michigan in the United States and in July 2002 it was found in Essex County in Ontario.

Like some other exotic pests that affect plants and trees, it is believed to have been accidentally introduced to North America in imported wood packaging or crating material.

How is the emerald ash borer spread?

The most common way for the emerald ash borer to spread is through people moving infested materials such as firewood, logs, branches, nursery stock, chips or other ash wood. The emerald ash borer also spreads naturally through beetle flight. Research indicates the adult can fly up to 10 kilometres, but generally does not stray from the immediate area when it emerges.

Who has the responsibility for regulatory control of the emerald ash borer?

It is essential that all partners including other federal departments, provincial and municipal governments and industry continue to work together to protect Canada's valuable forest resources.

Under the authority of the Plant Protection Act, the CFIA is responsible for preventing pests of quarantine significance from entering or spreading within Canada.

When pests of quarantine significance become established, a decision must be made (in consultation with our government partners and stakeholders) about whether there is merit in trying to eradicate or contain the pest.

What is the proposed CFIA plan to control the emerald ash borer?

The CFIA believes there is continued merit in slowing the spread of the emerald ash borer within Canada and protecting this country's vast ash resource. To achieve this, the emphasis is on the following:

  • regulating the movement of ash materials and firewood,
  • performing enforcement activities,
  • doing surveillance,
  • providing effective communications, and
  • supporting continued research.

The CFIA continues to consult with federal, provincial and municipal partners and stakeholders on science-based strategies for detecting and controlling the emerald ash borer. Biological control and natural tree resistance may play increasingly important roles in managing this insect's populations.

Surveillance activities outside the regulated areas include surveying high-risk sites such as campgrounds, nurseries and woodlots. This will help prevent the spread of the pest to areas where the emerald ash borer is not known to occur.

Along with these regulatory and surveillance activities, the CFIA continues its efforts to raise public awareness of the emerald ash borer as part of the slow-the-spread strategy.

Will the CFIA remove trees in infested areas?

No. When the emerald ash borer was first detected in Canada, the CFIA's control measures included cutting down infested trees. Since then, however, the CFIA has determined that removing infested host trees is not an effective tool in managing the emerald ash borer. The CFIA only orders trees to be removed within regulated areas for the purpose of supporting research.

What are regulated areas and how are they established?

The CFIA establishes regulated areas to maintain and enforce restrictions against moving potentially infested wood items from areas where the emerald ash borer (EAB) has been found. This is necessary for the following reasons: to slow the spread of the insect, to protect the health of Canada's trees and forests, and to prevent economic losses to the nursery, lumber and tourism industries and to municipalities.

Generally, restrictions or prohibitions are placed on areas where the pest is present or suspected to occur and where there is merit in trying to slow or prevent the spread of the pest. When EAB is detected in a new area, the CFIA initially establishes a regulated area by issuing a notice of prohibition of movement or notice of quarantine to individual property owners. These notices help to restrict or prohibit the movement of high-risk materials from properties that are confirmed as being infested with EAB or those suspected of being infested.

Historically, a Ministerial Order (MO) was used to regulate a larger area (usually at the county level), but these same areas are now regulated by a policy directive.

Effective April 26, 2013, EAB was added to Schedule II of the Plant Protection Regulations (PPR). The Ministerial Order was repealed, and the areas regulated for EAB are now officially set out in the CFIA policy directive D-03-08, Phytosanitary Requirements to prevent the introduction into and spread within Canada of the Emerald Ash Borer.

The change to defining the regulated areas from MO to the policy directive allows the CFIA to enhance regulatory control, as the CFIA will be able to amend the list of EAB regulated areas in a more timely manner when new EAB infestations are detected. The addition of EAB to Schedule II of the PPR does not add restrictions or regulatory burden. It simply mirrors the restrictions that were contained in the MO in a more permanent and responsive manner.

It is important to officially define the areas of Canada that are infested with EAB, as this allows areas in Canada that are not infested with the insect to continue to export ash nursery stock and forest products to our trading partners.

Any proposed changes to regulated areas are based on surveillance results and recommendations from the science community.

Where are the regulated areas for the emerald ash borer in Canada?

Regulated articles such as ash tree materials and firewood of all species cannot be removed from these areas without prior permission from the CFIA.

What items are restricted from leaving regulated areas?

Regulated articles include the following:

  • ash nursery stock
  • ash trees
  • ash logs
  • ash wood
  • rough lumber (including pallets and other wood packaging materials containing ash, wood, bark, wood chips or bark chips from ash trees)
  • firewood of all tree species

Vehicles that were used to carry any of these items are also regulated.

Moving these materials from regulated areas is permitted only if the following conditions are met:

  • the materials have been treated to kill or remove all life stages of the emerald ash borer, and
  • written permission has been obtained from a CFIA inspector.

Domestic movement requirements for ash products, as well as import conditions, are outlined in the CFIA policy directive D-03-08: Phytosanitary Requirements to Prevent the Introduction Into and Spread Within Canada of the Emerald Ash Borer, Agrilus planipennis (Fairmaire). The directive also provides information on the voluntary Emerald Ash Borer Approved Facility Compliance Program. The program has been developed to mitigate the spread of the emerald ash borer in Canada while facilitating the domestic movement and importation of regulated articles from the continental United States.

Are there fines for moving wood from a regulated area?

Yes, you can be fined for moving wood from a regulated area. Under the authority of the Plant Protection Act, restrictions are put in place to prevent movement of materials that may spread federally regulated pests such as the emerald ash borer. The methods used do not necessarily relate to the volume involved.

There are two types of penalties that can be issued for those who violate the Plant Protection Act:

  • Immediate penalties of up to $15,000 may be issued. Administrative Monetary Penalties (or AMPs) are basically tickets used to encourage compliance and deter repeated offences. They can be issued to individuals or businesses under the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act.
  • A penalty of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years. This involves a prosecution, where the individual or business is charged with an offence under the Act. Prosecution under the Act is usually used to penalize repeated non-compliance or for serious violations.

What do I do if I suspect my ash tree is infested?

If you are not in one of the areas regulated for the emerald ash borer and you suspect signs of infestation on your ash trees, contact a local CFIA office.

If you are in an area that is regulated for the emerald ash borer and you have recently trimmed or cut down your ash tree, please call your city, your municipality, or the CFIA for directions on disposal.

Will the CFIA remove trees infested with the emerald ash borer and, if so, will compensation be available?

No, the CFIA will not remove infested trees nor provide compensation. The CFIA is now focusing all its efforts related to the emerald ash borer towards surveillance, enforcement, and public awareness to prevent further spread of the pest.

When the emerald ash borer was first detected in Canada, the CFIA included tree removal as one control measure. The CFIA has since decided to eliminate tree removal as a management option for the emerald ash borer because, from a national perspective, ash tree removal is not an effective way to prevent this pest from spreading to non-infested areas. More important issues include;

  • the possibility that people may transfer the pest to new areas while moving infested firewood, and;
  • the possibility that the emerald ash borer has already been introduced to many areas that do not appear to be infested, but that these infestations have not yet been discovered because infestations are difficult to identify and ash trees take a long time to develop symptoms of infestation.

The CFIA will issue a Notice to Dispose and order the removal of trees within regulated areas only when required to support research. In all other cases, tree owners are responsible for removing trees that are infested with the emerald ash borer and cover the costs associated with the removal.