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How to spot tell-tale signs of the emerald ash borer

While the emerald ash borer's eventual spread is widely considered to be inevitable, the speed and breadth at which it this will happen are by no means certain, said Geir Friisoe, the director of the plant protection division of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Friisoe said that the department is actively tracking ash borer in the state. While it's only been identified so far in St. Paul, the bugs are likely present in pockets elsewhere in the state, he said.

Individual homeowners can help by looking for tell tale signs of an emerald ash borer infestation.

One such sign, said Friisoe, is an unusual amount of woodpeckers, which like to feast on the larvae, he said.

"If you see a lot of woodpeckers, peel away some bark from the tree," he said. "The larvae make a very distinctive "s" shape in the tree."

Other signs, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, include the dying of leaves in the upper part of trees, "D-shaped exit holes" on the bark, or "water shoots up the trunk."

If homeowners see signs of an ash borer infestation, they should not immediately cut down the tree -- as improper disposal can spread the insect further -- but notify local experts, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Those experts include the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, certified arborists, city foresters and University of Minnesota extension offices.

The nearest U of M extension office in the Willmar area is in Hutchinson. It can be contacted at 320-234-0431.