Woodpeckers Anyone?

Have you heard or seen a woodpecker recently? It turns woodpeckers are great at detecting the pesky and invasive Emerald Ash Borer.

Late winter is a good time to look for emerald ash borer

By Val Cervenka, DNR forest health program coordinator

Woodpecker activity on ash is one of the best ways to locate trees infested with emerald ash borer (EAB), according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“The best time of year to see woodpecker activity in trees is in late winter and early spring before leaves are out,” said Val Cervenka, DNR forest health program coordinator.

Woodpeckers are searching for food such as EAB larvae that are under the tree’s bark. To find food, woodpeckers flake off the outer bark, leaving light-colored patches on the trunk and large branches. Before leaves emerge, these light patches are easily spotted from the ground. Holes within the light patches where the woodpecker dug out a larva can be seen with binoculars.

According to Cervenka, woodpecker activity is a great way to detect EAB because woodpeckers are attracted to trees infested with EAB and not to those infested with native borers, whose populations tend to stay small.

St. Paul and other communities in the Twin Cities infested with EAB have experienced some success in slowing down its spread by targeting ash tree removal in areas with woodpecker activity.

State and federal agencies need help monitoring the spread of EAB. Report any suspected new finds to the Arrest the Pest hotline or leave a voicemail at 888-545-6684. Provide a detailed message including your name, location of tree, contact number and symptoms you’ve noticed, and email a picture of the tree.

A new find occurs when any an EAB-infested tree is discovered in a Minnesota county or community that is considered not infested with EAB. Visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Emerald Ash Borer Status website at  to find areas in Minnesota infested with EAB.

The MDA is hosting free, hour-long EAB detection workshops in Superior, Wisconsin from March 22-27. Workshop information is available at MDA’s EAB Program website.  

Learn more by visiting MNDNR’s EAB website.

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