LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Emerald Ash Borer is on the way to Nebraska and it's not a matter of if, but when.
Mark Harrell the Nebraska Forest Program Director says that he and his colleagues are checking ash trees around the state, constantly looking for the emerald ash borer which is a small, green, shiny bug that lays eggs in the tree.
Those eggs produce larvae that hatches in the tree and the larvae eats the tree causing major problems.
The bug's already been found in ash trees surrounding Nebraska. In Iowa, Colorado and Kansas. It travels through chopped firewood.
Harrell says he knows it's only a matter of time before campers accidentally bring it to Nebraska.
Symptoms include canopy thinning and branch dieback, usually beginning in the top of the tree, sprouting from the base of the tree, bark splitting, zigzag tunnels below the bark, d-shaped exit holes 1/8-inch across and bark stripping from woodpecker activity.
There are about 50 million ash trees in Nebraska across the state.
Mark Harrell said it is difficult to imagine that many trees will be gone. "Once the ash trees are gone, they are probably not going to come back because the insect will always be here and always there to kill the new population of ash trees."
The bug may not actually get into any of these trees for a few years because it could be a few years before the bug actually makes it to the state. But the Nebraska Forestry Department says they are not taking any chances.
They are taking some actions to prevent the worst.
"There are a lot of efforts going on to look for it . We have traps that have been put out across the state to catch the bug," said Harrell.
But once the bug infests Nebraska's ash trees, slowly and painfully the trees will die. Symptoms often don't appear until it's just too late. The tree won't show symptoms for three to four years.
Harrell knows people will notice once they are gone."They'll be missed, at least for a while. They will."
Homeowners who want to know how to pre-treat their trees from the bugs can click on the links above.
Many of the pesticides that are needed can be ordered through manufacturers directly. And it costs about $100.00 a year to maintain the treatments.