An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide


First Emerald Ash Borer Evidence Found in Vermont

3-5-18 emerald ash borer tunnels commonpence.co2 EABTunnels

It was only a matter of time before Vermont joined New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York as a host of the Emerald Ash Borer in the Northeast. This past week, the first evidence of an Emerald Ash Borer infestation was found in Orange, Vermont, bringing the number of states infected by this beetle to 32.  The consensus is that the range of the Emerald Ash Borer has expanded rapidly due to the transportation of firewood from infested areas. On its own, the Emerald Ash Borer might spread one or two miles annually – far less than has been the case.

Other than seeing the Emerald Ash Borer itself (either the adult or the inner bark-eating larva) you can detect its presence by 1/8-inch-wide, D-shaped holes in ash bark and by S-shaped tunnels under the bark (see photo).

The insect does the most damage in its larval form, when it chews meandering tunnels through the inner bark of an otherwise healthy tree, depriving the tree over time of the means to transport water and nutrients. The Emerald Ash Borer affects all species of ash and once infected, trees usually die within a year or two.

The ash is the third important North American tree to succumb to blight over the last century, following the American Chestnut, and the American Elm. About one percent of ash populations survive infestations; these trees could indicate genetic tolerance which could hold hope for the future.  (Photos: public domain)

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Basic Botany: Bud, Leaf and Branch Arrangement

1-31-18 twigs-1

In winter it is common to use the pattern by which branches and buds are arranged on a deciduous tree as a first, quick clue to the tree’s identity.  There are two large groups of trees, those with alternate and opposite patterns, and a third less common pattern, whorled.  Trees with alternate arrangement have only a single leaf/bud/branch attached at one location (node) on a branch.  Those with opposite arrangement have two leaves/buds/branches attached at a node, opposite one another on either side of the branch.  When more than two leaves/buds/branches arise from a node (rare) this is called a whorled arrangement.

At this time of year, when deciduous trees are bare, you can see the arrangement of buds, branches and leaf scars (where leaves have fallen off) clearly.  Relatively few trees have opposite branching – Maples, Ashes, Dogwoods, and Horse Chestnuts – while a majority have alternate branching.  More characteristics are needed to narrow a tree down to species, but noting its arrangement is an easy and quick way to eliminate certain species.

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