Emerald Ash Borer


Actual Size: 7 to 8 mm

Characteristics: Long narrow body; shiny emerald or coppery green.

Legs: Yes

Antennae: Yes

Wings: Yes, and can fly short distances.

Habitat: Will live in any location near a population of ash trees. Firewood is one of the main pathways by which this insect has been moved to new locations by humans.


  • Transported through human activity, such as moving firewood.
  • Highly destructive wood-boring beetle that feeds on the tissue of ash trees.
  • Since 2002, the beetle has destroyed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America.

Emerald Ash Borers in North Carolina

The emerald ash borer is a highly destructive wood-boring beetle that feeds on the tissue of ash trees. Since its discovery, the beetle has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America. The emerald ash borer spreads through the transportation of wood, especially firewood. Once the emerald ash borer has been detected within 10-15 miles of an area, the trees within that area may be at risk.

Because there are many different types of beetles in North Carolina, they can be difficult to distinguish, however our common beetle species can help with this.

Emerald Ash Borer Beetle Habitat

The emerald ash borer lives in any area with a population of ash trees, including black ash, green ash, and white ash. Adult emerald ash borers fly to ash trees to eat and lay eggs.  Larvae feed on the nutrient-rich tissue just under the ash tree’s bark, forming S-shaped lines in the tree. This feeding process disrupts the trees’ ability to move food and water from their roots to their leaves, eventually killing the tree. As a new adult exits the tree, it chews a D-shaped hole in the bark.

What Does Emerald Ash Borer Look Like?

The adult Emerald Ash Borer is a small, metallic green beetle, about half an inch long. Its distinctive, bright emerald color makes it recognizable. The larvae are cream-colored and flat, with segmented bodies and live beneath the bark of ash trees.

Emerald Ash Borer Beetle Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Emerald ash borer beetles do not bite or sting, however, since the discovery of this beetle in the United States in 2002, it is estimated that millions of ash trees have been killed. These beetles are mostly transported by human activity, moving firewood or other wood products, and nursery stock infested with beetles. Signs of infestation are usually noticed first in the top canopy and include thinning and yellowing leaves, D-shaped holes in the bark, and canopy and bark loss. Unfortunately, by the time a homeowner at ground level spots an exit hole from an emerging emerald ash borer beetle, the tree will likely have been infested by consecutive generations of emerald ash beetles. Homeowners can inspect their trees for signs of infestation and treat their ash trees with various insecticidal products available at garden centers or by hiring a beetle control expert.

Where did the Emerald Ash Borer come from?

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is native to northeastern Asia, primarily found in Russia, Mongolia, China, Japan, and Korea.
This invasive beetle was first discovered in the United States in 2002, near Detroit, Michigan. It’s believed to have arrived in the U.S. via wooden packing materials. EAB is a significant threat to ash trees, causing extensive damage and mortality to ash species in North America. Efforts to manage the spread of EAB include quarantine measures and the promotion of diverse urban and rural forestry to reduce the reliance on ash trees.

How do Emerald Ash Borers Kill Trees?

Emerald Ash Borers kill trees by disrupting their vascular system. The larvae feed on the inner bark, creating galleries that hinder the flow of nutrients and water. This damage leads to canopy dieback, bark splitting, and, ultimately, the tree’s death, typically within 3-5 years after infestation.

How to Get Rid of Emerald Ash Borer?

Eradicating Emerald Ash Borers is challenging. Prevention and early detection are key. Infested trees may be treated with insecticides, but this is often only effective in the early stages of infestation. Removing and destroying infested trees is crucial to prevent further spread.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Does the Emerald Ash Borer Harm?

The Emerald Ash Borer specifically harms ash trees (genus Fraxinus). It targets all species of Ash Trees, causing significant damage and often leading to the death of the tree. The loss of Ash Trees can have detrimental effects on ecosystems, as these trees provide critical habitat and food for various wildlife species.

Can You Stop the Emerald Ash Borer?

Stopping the spread of Emerald Ash Borers is challenging, but possible, with coordinated efforts. This includes strict quarantine measures to prevent the movement of infested wood, early detection through monitoring, and the use of insecticides to protect uninfested trees. Public education on identifying and reporting possible Emerald Ash Borer sightings also plays a crucial role.

Can I Save an Ash Tree Infested with Emerald Ash Borers?

Saving an Ash Tree infested with Emerald Ash Borers depends on the stage of infestation. If detected early, insecticide treatments can be effective. However, in later stages of infestation, the chances of saving the tree are significantly reduced. In such cases, removal of the infested tree to prevent the spread to nearby Ash Trees is often the recommended course of action.