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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.

The emerald ash borer does not pose a risk to human health.

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 (1/8 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.

Where has the emerald ash borer been found in Canada?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducts ongoing surveys to detect new populations. These new populations may come from natural spread or from people moving infested firewood, nursery stock or other ash materials.

In Canada, the emerald ash borer has been confirmed in the following places:

Ontario

  • the regional municipalities of Chatham-Kent, Durham, York, Peel, Halton, Niagara and Waterloo;
  • the counties of Elgin, Essex, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth and Wellington;
  • the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville;
  • the cities of Brantford, Hamilton, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie and Toronto; and
  • the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.

Quebec

  • the municipality of Carignan in Quebec; and
  • the cities of Gatineau and Montreal.

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.

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?

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. Regulated areas can be established through ministerial orders and notices of prohibition of movement.

Regulated areas allow the CFIA to maintain and enforce restrictive measures on moving potentially infested wood items from areas where the emerald ash borer 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.

Additionally, these ministerial orders officially identify the areas of Canada that are infested with the emerald ash borer. 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.

Another way the CFIA establishes a regulated area is by issuing a notice of prohibition of movement or notice of quarantine to individual property owners. These orders help to restrict or prohibit the movement of high-risk materials from properties that are confirmed as being infested with the emerald ash borer or those suspected of being infested.

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?

The areas that are designated as regulated areas for the emerald ash borer under ministerial order are as follows.

Ontario

  • the cities of Hamilton and Toronto, the regional municipalities of Chatham-Kent, Durham, York, Peel, Halton, Niagara and Waterloo, the counties of Brant (including the City of Brantford), Elgin, Essex, Haldimand, Huron, Lambton, Middlesex, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth and Wellington
  • the city of Sault Ste. Marie

Ontario–Quebec

  • the city of Ottawa, the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville in Ontario and the City of Gatineau, Quebec

Quebec

  • the municipalities of Carignan, Chambly, Richelieu, Saint-Basile-le-Grand and Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu

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

Why are areas being amalgamated in southern Ontario and what will this change do?

The emerald ash borer is very difficult to detect at low population levels. When it is detected in an area, it is likely that it has been present there for a few years. The amalgamation of infested areas in southern Ontario allows CFIA inspectors to focus their efforts on preventing the movement of regulated articles (firewood, logs, branches, etc.) from infested areas to areas where the emerald ash borer has not been detected.

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.

Why is Haldimand County included in the regulated area in southern Ontario? Has the emerald ash borer been detected in that county?

The emerald ash borer has not been detected in Haldimand County.

Haldimand County has been included in the regulated area in southern Ontario because it is surrounded by counties with established populations of emerald ash borer. Given the high probability of being infested with the emerald ash borer, Haldimand County has been regulated so that potentially infested materials in that county are not permitted to move to other areas of Ontario and/or Canada where the emerald ash borer is not known to occur.

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

The ministerial order extends to vehicles that were used to carry any of these items.

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.

If my products are produced in accordance with the Canadian Heat Treated Wood Packaging Certification Program (CHTWPCP) or the Canadian Wood Packaging Certification Program (CWPCP), do I still need to obtain a movement certificate from a CFIA inspector before moving materials from a regulated area?

No, you do not. If you are a member of the Canadian Heat Treated Wood Packaging Certification Program (CHTWPCP) or the Canadian Wood Packaging Certification Program (CWPCP), and your products are made in accordance with the program standards, you do not need to obtain a movement certificate from a CFIA inspector before moving material from a regulated area.

The reason for this is that these programs mitigate the risk of spreading the emerald ash borer and they are audited by the CFIA.

How is the CFIA increasing public awareness of the requirements of the ministerial order?

The CFIA has been increasing public awareness of the emerald ash borer and the requirements of the ministerial order by doing the following:

  • publicizing the regulations on the movement of firewood and ash tree materials in newspapers;
  • seeking opportunities to present information or speak on the emerald ash borer;
  • keeping the public, stakeholders and affected industries up to date through CFIA web site information;
  • distributing posters and other printed materials to the public, impacted areas and affected industries; and
  • taking effective enforcement actions when warranted.

Continued cooperation from the public is essential if we are to slow the spread of this pest.

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 the CFIA at 1-866-463-6017.

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.

ISPM No. 15 compliant wood packaging material (WPM): what is it?

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) has developed the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) No. 15 to impose standards on the producing heat-treated or fumigated wood packaging material.

The standard’s main purpose is to prevent the international spread of disease and insects that could have a negative effect on a country’s plant resource base, economy and overall environment. More than 170 countries have become contracting parties to the IPPC and have recognised ISPM No. 15.

Where can I purchase ISPM No. 15 wood packaging material?

The CFIA maintains a list of registered facilities in Canada that make compliant wood packaging material.

How do I register to be recognized as a producer of ISPM No. 15 compliant wood packaging material (WPM)?

All application procedures are in this document, QSM-02(3rd Revision): Quality System Requirements For Facility Registration under the Canadian Wood Packaging Certification Program (CWPCP) or the Canadian Heat Treated Wood Products Certification Program (CHTWPCP).

What can I do to help?

  • Do not move the regulated materials.
  • Buy and burn firewood locally.
  • Report signs of emerald ash borer infestation to the CFIA.
  • Use only ISPM No. 15 compliant wood packaging material (WPM) when transporting goods.
  • If you produce wood packaging material, you need to register with the CFIA in either the Canadian Wood Packaging Certification Program (CWPCP) or the Canadian Heat Treated Wood Packaging Certification Program (CHTWPCP) to ensure that you are in compliance with the ISPM No. 15.