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Emerald Ash Borer

Preventing the establishment of satellite EAB populations saves money

[photo:] Tree mortality on suburban Detroit street, heavily planted with green ash. Photo by David CappaertResearch Issue

The invasion spread of emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) is facilitated by the formation of satellite populations when humans inadvertently transport infested ash material.  How much money can we save by preventing the establishment of satellite EAB populations and slowing the spread of the invasion?

 Our Research

We used computer simulations of invasion spread to estimate the economic costs caused by EAB for the 10-yr period from 2010 to 2020 for scenarios of fewer EAB satellite populations than those found from 2005 to 2010 and slower expansion of satellite populations found in 2009.  We projected discounted costs of treatment, removal, and replacement of landscape ash trees (Fraxinus sp.) growing on developed land in U.S. communities in a 25-state area centered on Detroit.  Estimated costs for the base scenario with the full complement of satellites in 2005 to 2010 and no program to mitigate spread is $12.5 billion.  Fewer EAB satellites from 2005 to 2010 reduce economic costs of $1.0 to 7.4 billion over the decade 2010-2020.  Slower expansion of 2009 satellite populations reduces economic costs of $0.1 to 0.7 billion.  Satellite populations that are both distant from the core EAB infestation and close to large urban areas caused more economic costs in our simulations than did other satellites.

Expected Outcomes

Our estimates of delayed economic costs suggest that spending on activities that prevent establishment of new satellite EAB populations or slow expansion of existing populations can be cost-effective and that continued research on the cost and effectiveness of prevention and control activities is warranted. 

Research Results

Kovacs, Kent F.; Mercader, Rodrigo J.; Haight, Robert G.; Siegert, Nathan W.; McCullough, Deborah G.; Liebhold, Andrew M. 2011. The influence of satellite populations of emerald ash borer on projected economic damage in U.S. communities, 2010-2020. Journal of Environmental Management. 92: 2170-2181.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Kent F. Kovacs, Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Fayetteville, AR
  • Robert G. Haight, Research Forester, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Research Partners

  • Deborah G. McCullough, Michigan State University, Departments of Forestry and Entomology, East Lansing, MI
  • Rodrigo J. Mercader, Washburn University, Department of Biology, Topeka, KS
  • Nathan W. Siegert, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern State and Private Forestry, Durham, NH
  • Andrew M. Liebhold, Research Entomologist, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Morgantown, WV

Last Modified: 01/08/2013