Will cold, winter temps. impact Wis. emerald ash borer populatio - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Will cold, winter temps. impact Wis. emerald ash borer population?

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MADISON, Wisconsin (WKOW) – This year's brutally cold winter might have made Emerald Ash Borers around Wisconsin a bit uncomfortable.

The borer, a beetle that burrows into the trunks of ash trees, underneath the bark, and kills them, was found in Madison last fall.

But Dr. Ken Raffa, a professor of forest entomology at the UW-Madison, said this winter's temperatures were not cold enough to cause a major die-off in the ash borer population.

I think it will slow it down,” Raffa said. “But it's not going to make it go away.”

Raffa said the borer comes from a traditionally cold part of China. So temperatures around -20 degrees Fahrenheit seen in Madison this winter were not cold enough to impact the bug.

Although he added temperatures in Northern Wisconsin may have been closer to the tundra-like conditions needed to kill the borer.

Raffa said temperatures need to reach -30 or -35 degrees Fahrenheit in order to put the squeeze on the beetle.

Bill McNee, a forest health specialist at the DNR post in Tomah, said the beetle's larvae, often buried under the bark of trees, stay relatively well insulated from the cold.

The trees get warmed by the sun during the day,” he said.

McNee also said the Emerald Ash Borer also can produce its own “anti-freeze” when it senses winter coming. That internal process helps to prevent the beetle from freezing.

He added the Emerald Ash Borer population as a whole is also resilient

The female ash borer will lay 50 to 100 eggs during the summer,” McNee said.

So even if you kill half of them, the surviving half are going to lay 50 to 100 eggs,” he said. “So you have to prepare for a rapid population rebound.”

McNee said those planning on treating their ash trees in the hope of preventing a borer infestation should not alter those plans due to the cold.

He said treatments can be done either by professional landscapers or using chemicals available for purchase at hardware stores.

McNee said treatment tends to cost roughly $10 per inch in diameter of a tree. He said a tree 10 inches in diameter would cost approximately $100 to treat.

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