Emerald Ash Borer Found in Brown County Kansas

As many of you know, Brown County Kansas is the homeplace of Grimm’s Gardens. And because of that, anything important starts here first. Last week, a group of Kansas foresters, entomologists, and Doug Grimm met south of Hiawatha to look over some ash trees. And what did they find? Yes, they found emerald ash borer.

But what does that mean for the county and surrounding areas. Emerald ash borer (EAB), has already been in Kansas since 2012. For the last decade, it has been slowly making its way across Northeast Kansas, and is now found in 12 counties, though I suspect it is likely in many more. Because of the broad range of forested areas in eastern Kansas, it is impossible for Certified Arborists and State Foresters to check every as tree for EAB. There are many potential problems with these findings.

What Does Emerald Ash Borer Findings Mean for the Homeowner?

The average homeowner has no idea what trees are in their yard, not what the neighbor has, nor the park down the street. But a great percentage of our community landscapes contain ash species. In the mid 20th Century, after the devastating loss of our American Elms to Dutch Elm Disease, many homeowners and towns started planting ash species. Green, white, and, blue are the most commonly used species in Kansas.

Because of the use of ash trees as shade trees, there is a greater potential for disasters such as what is happening now. I cannot stress tree diversity in the landscape enough. But how will EAB affect homeowners now? When your ash tree starts to die, you will realize its potential problems. It will affect you and them, financially.

Emerald ash borer infested tree
This green ash at the ball field in Everest, KS is showing signs of severe EAB infestation, including crown dieback, bark shedding, and larval tunneling under the bark

The Cost of Emerald Ash Borer

Once EAB is detected in your county, or a nearby county, homeowners need to be prepared. The first thing to do is to hire a Certified Arborist to come and assess the trees in your landscape for risk potential. This means that an expert comes out and looks at your trees and determines what trees you have and whether or not they should be kept or removed.

A good arborist can decide if your ash (or other tree) should be injected to prevent insect damage or disease, or removed and replaced. Depending on the size of your tree, costs for either can run into the thousands of dollars. EAB injections need to be applied every 1 to 3 years, depending on the chemical used and the severity of the potential infection.

How Does Emerald Ash Borer Affect the Ecology of My Neighborhood?

Now that we know how the finding of EAB affects homeowners in the area, we need to look at the forest, instead of the trees. What is the bigger picture here? The potential loss of millions of trees in our forests is a profound one. We are losing more that just our shade and tree canopy. We are losing homes, food, and shelter for uncounted numbers of creatures. And that will affect homeowners too.

When a species of tree such as the ash is removed from the overall landscape, the ecology of life around it will be affected. The eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly, many dozens of moths, beetles, borers, sawflies, and more insects feed on the leaves and wood of the ash. Gamebirds, wood ducks, cardinals, finches, grosbeaks, and many mammals eat the seeds or browse the leaves and stems. And in older trees, hollows are used by woodpeckers, mammals, and other species as homes.

If the ash trees die, fall, and rot away, what happens to all these animals? Either we lose them too, or they start feeding on the other trees and shrubs in our landscapes, which can cause a ripple effect in damage increase seen.

What Can We Do About EAB?

The first thing to do is correctly identify our ash trees and their risk potential. If a tree is worth saving, then we should try to save it. Injecting a tree to prevent and kill EAB will help slow down the spread of it. Another thing we can do is a pre-emptive strike against ash trees. It sounds hard, and it is. But if we remove young and old, especially weak or damage ash trees, we can slow the spread of EAB.

There is some hope in the darkness. Already, a predator of EAB is being released in communities of high ash populations. This predator is a parasitoid wasp, a tiny insect whose larvae eats the EAB beetle from the inside out.

What Should Our Future Landscapes Look Like?

Who knows? As ash trees decline, we also see other species dying off from invasive diseases and pests. If we diversify our landscape and yards with more trees, we might yet see a comeback for the ash. But before that time comes, we need to add in more tree species than what is already there. Our landscapes already have a high number of oaks, maples, elms (hybrids), crabapples, and flowering pears. Plant a tree from the following list of shade trees to increase diversity and decrease pest potential.

trees to replace ash trees in the landscape
  • Tulip Poplar
  • Kentucky Coffeetree
  • American Yellowwood
  • Ginkgo
  • River Birch
  • Shagbark Hickory
  • Bitternut Hickory
  • Catalpa
  • Hackberry
  • Persimmon
  • Hardy Rubber Tree
  • Baldcypress
  • Sweetgum
  • Osage Orange
  • Eastern Cottonwood
  • American Linden


Emerald ash borer is here to stay. And it will continue to move west throughout Kansas, Nebraska, and other states. It is inevitable. So be prepared. Find out what trees you have and whether they are worth keeping. And plan for the future of your landscape by picking trees suitable that add diversity to it.

Happy planting!

author of EAB in Brown County

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.