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Emerald Ash Borer

The cost of the emerald ash borer infestation

[photo:] Contractors removing trees infested by emerald ash borer, Shields, MI, 2004.  Photo by Dave Cappaert, Michigan State University.  Used with permission.Research Issue

As emerald ash borer spreads and kills ash trees across the U.S., how much can we expect to spend on treating healthy trees or removing and replacing infested trees?

 Our Research

In 2002, the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) was discovered near Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a beetle native to Asia that has the potential to spread and kill native ash trees (Fraxinus sp.) throughout the United States and Canada. As of May 2010, isolated populations of EAB had been found in 14 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces. We used computer simulations of EAB spread to estimate the cost of ash tree treatment, removal, and replacement (re-planting of new trees) between 2009 and 2019. The study focused on developed land within established communities in a 25-state area centered on Detroit. There are an estimated 38 million landscape ash trees in this area.


The simulations predict a growing EAB infestation that is likely to include most of the 25 states. Responses to the infestation include treatment, removal, and replacement of more than 17 million ash trees at an estimated cost of $10.7 billion. Expanding the land base of the simulations to include developed land outside, as well as inside, human communities nearly doubles the estimated number of ash trees and the cost. The simulations also suggest that a large investment could be spent efficiently to slow the expansion of isolated EAB infestations and postpone the ultimate costs of ash tree treatment, removal, and replacement.

Research Results

Kovacs, Kent F.; Haight, Robert G.; McCullough, Deborah G.; Mercader, Rodrigo J.; Siegert, Nathan W.; Liebhold, Andrew M. 2010. Cost of potential emerald ash borer damage in U.S communities, 2009-2019. Ecological Economics 69: 569-578.

Haight, Robert G.; Kovacs, Kent; Liebhold, Andrew M.; McCullough, Deborah G. 2009. Economic assessment of potential emerald ash borer damage in urban areas in the United States. In: McManus, Katherine A; Gottschalk, Kurt W., eds. Proceedings. 20th U.S. Department of Agriculture interagency research forum on invasive species 2009; 2009 January 13-16; Annapolis, MD. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-51. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 32-33.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Kent F. Kovacs, Research Associate, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
  • Robert Haight, Research Forester, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Research Partners

  • Deborah G. McCullough, Michigan State University, Departments of Forestry and Entomology
  • Rodrigo J. Mercader, Michigan State University, Department of Entomology
  • Nathan W. Siegert, Michigan State University, Department of Entomology
  • Andrew M. Liebhold, Research Entomologist, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Last Modified: 01/08/2013