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Individual Highlight

Controlling Emerald Ash Borer and Preserving Black Ash for Native American Basketmaking

Photo of Forest Service technician Tina Ciaramitaro and biological aide Tom Baweja submerge infested black ash logs in a stream. USDA Forest ServiceForest Service technician Tina Ciaramitaro and biological aide Tom Baweja submerge infested black ash logs in a stream. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Emerald ash borer threatens the survival of all ash species in North America. The black ash tree has great cultural significance to Native Americans, who use the wood for basketmaking. Working with Native American basketmakers in Michigan, Forest Service scientists found that submerging infested black ash logs in streams of running water for 14 weeks in spring or 18 weeks in winter killed all emerald ash borer larvae and preserved wood quality.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Poland, Therese M.  
Research Location : East Lansing, MI
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 840

Summary

The emerald ash borer (EAB) threatens all native ash trees in North America including black ash, which has great cultural significance to Native Americans. Black ash separates easily into wood splints and is used in basketmaking, a significant source of income and pride for tribal artisans from Minnesota to Maine. Forest Service scientists teamed up with native Michigan basketmakers to evaluate the traditional practice of submerging black ash logs in streams as a means of both preserving wood and killing EAB larvae. Logs were submerged at different times of the year for varying lengths of time, then either dissected to determine mortality of larvae inside or stored in rearing tubes to allow surviving EAB to emerge. After dissection, the scientists pounded and peeled logs using traditional methods and assessed wood splints to determine color, pliability, and quality. All EAB had died and no adults emerged from logs submerged for 18 weeks during winter or 14 weeks in spring, and wood quality, color, and pliability remained suitable for basketmaking. Research confirmed that submerging infested logs for at least 14 weeks after air temperatures reach 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) and water temperatures reach 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) resulted in black ash logs suitable for basketmaking.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Marla Emery
  • Tina M. Ciaramitaro
  • Damon Crook (APHIS)
  • Ed Pigeon and Angie Pigeon (Gun Lake Tribe)

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