The 5 Best Emerald Ash Borer Treatments to Save Your Trees

Written by Alan Lemus
Updated: March 14, 2023
© Herman Wong HM/Shutterstock.com

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Key Points:

  • The #1 Overall Best Emerald Ash Borer Treatment to save your trees is the Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control.
  • The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle species in the United States. Originating from Asia, the beetle was first detected in the U.S. in 2002 and has since spread to 33 states, killing millions of trees and causing billions of dollars worth of damage to ecosystems. This invasive pest attacks ash trees.
  • Emerald ash borer treatments are necessary to protect trees from this destructive beetle. Early detection is important so that you can take action as soon as possible and ensure that it does not spread further.
  • There are many options for emerald ash borer treatments, both for professional and at-home use. When choosing a treatment for your trees, it is important to consider factors like the infestation area, tree species, type of treatment, and budget.

Can you imagine a world without trees? A world with rising temperatures, floods, air pollution, drought, and a lack of biodiversity? That’s right, human beings would struggle to survive in a world without trees. From ash and red maple to pine and oak, there is a wide variety of trees throughout the world that play a huge role in fostering the sustainability of the planet. They not only provide habitat for different insect and animal species, but they also help to improve the quality of the air we breathe.

The ash tree is often said to be “as American as apple pie.” While the ash tree remains popular in the United States, its existence is threatened by a small beetle called an emerald ash borer (EAB). The emerald ash borer is an invasive insect identified in the summer of 2002 in southeastern Michigan near Detroit. According to reports, the insect likely arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material transported in cargo ships or planes from Asia. 

This metallic-green adult beetle is usually ½ inch long while its reddish-brown eggs are about 1/25 inch. Although the beetle is quite small, it does a lot of damage to trees, and ultimately affects the ecosystem. The larvae (young stage) bore into the inner bark of ash trees. This hinders the tree’s ability to transport nutrients and water. Small infested trees can die in just one to two years. Bigger trees can die in three to four years.

So, what’s the best treatment for emerald ash borers? Can you save your trees from this invasive beetle? We’ve put together a well-researched list of the 5 best Emerald Ash Borer treatments to save your trees. These treatments have been selected based on quality, price, and customer reviews.

  1. Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control
    • Controls, kills and prevents pest infestations
    • Kills emerald ash borers, adelgids, aphids, bronze birch borers, leaf miners and other bugs
    • Treatment moves through the roots and protects from insects for up to a year
    • Available in three sizes
    • Won't be washed off with rain
    Check Amazonn
  2. BioAdvanced Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed
    • Can be applied as a soil drench insecticide
    • Easy-to-use product
    • Prevents infestations for up to 12 months
    • Use to treat trees, shrubs, and potted plants
    • Best and most effective time of use is in mid-spring
    Check Amazon
  3. Valent Safari Insecticide with 20% Dinotefuran
    • Eliminates a variety of pests — including the emerald ash borer
    • Dinotefuran is key ingredient
    • Water-soluble and travels quickly through plants
    • Can be used in tandem with Pentra-Bark Surfactant
    • Professional-grade product
    Check Amazon
  4. FMC Astro Insecticide 1 Gallon
    • Affordable price point
    • Controls borers, beetles, cutworms and other tree-damaging pests
    • Won't be washed away by water
    • Ideal for use on trunks, branches and foliage


    Check Amazon
  5. Compare-N-Save Systemic Tree and Shrub Insect Drench
    • Destroys pests
    • Protects trees and plants for up to one year
    • Root absorption provides lasting protection
    • Use as part of a preventive treatment program
    • Cost-effective, affordable price point
    Check Amazon

Top Picks: The Best Emerald Ash Borer Treatments to Save Your Trees Today

#1 Best Overall: Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control

The Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control is our best choice for emerald ash borer treatment. Its active ingredient is Systemaxx Concentrate. This systemic chemical formulation is used to control, kill, and prevent pest infestations. It works on emerald ash borers, adelgids, aphids, bronze birch borers, leaf miners, scale insects, and many other bugs.

This insecticide is super easy to use — just mix it with water. You can apply it to the soil around your tree by pouring, or using a backpack, knapsack, compression, or tank-type sprayer.

The concentrate dissolves in water. Once it is applied as a soil drench, the pesticide moves through the root zone. It moves up through the roots of the infected tree or shrub, enabling protection from insects for a whole year for your tree. Users love this product, reporting that it is reasonably priced and saves their sick trees.

Even if you do not have an infestation yet, this is a great tool to use each spring when you see leaves starting to bud. This is when your trees soak up a lot of nutrients in the soil, so they will soak up the insecticide as well. Your trees will continue soaking it up over the next two or three months, getting all their nutrients and plenty of protection.

For it to be more effective, allow ample time for the product to dry completely before it rains. Once it has dried, the Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control can’t be washed off by rain.

The only downside is that the amount you need depends on the diameter of your tree. That means that if you have several very large trees, you are going to need a lot of insecticide, and the application can be time intensive.

Pros and Cons of the Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control

ProsCons
This insecticide uses Systemaxx Concentrate and works to control, kill, and prevent pest infestations.For it to be most effective, you’ll need to apply the product when there is plenty of time for it to dry before any rainstorms.
In addition to emerald ash borers, it can also treat other pests like aphids, leaf miners, adelgids, bronze birch borers, scale insects, and a number of other bugs.The amount you need depends on the diameter of your tree — if you have a lot of large trees, you will need quite a bit and it will take a lot of time to apply.
It is easy to use — you just need to mix it with water.
Once applied, the pesticide moves up the tree through the roots, providing protection from the inside out for the whole year.
It is reasonably priced and effective.
You can use it to treat infestations as well as to prevent pests.
Once the product has been applied and is dry, it can’t be washed off by rain.
Best Overall
Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control
  • Controls, kills and prevents pest infestations
  • Kills emerald ash borers, adelgids, aphids, bronze birch borers, leaf miners and other bugs
  • Treatment moves through the roots and protects from insects for up to a year
  • Available in three sizes
  • Won't be washed off with rain
Check Amazonn

2. Best For Soil Drench: BioAdvanced Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed

The BioAdvanced Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed treatment uses clothianidin and imidacloprid, which are systemic insecticides that can be applied as soil drenches. It is also easy to use for homeowners as it only requires measuring, mixing, and pouring at the trunk’s base. You can be sure that it gets rid of emerald ash borers and prevents new infestations for up to 12 months.

Aside from being effective against devastating pests like adelgids and emerald ash borers, this dual-action formula can also be used on trees, shrubs, and potted plants, including non-bearing fruit and nut trees listed on the label. This insecticide not only protects against insects but also works as a slow-release fertilizer, helping to improve and maintain the health of your trees and shrubs.

Wondering when is the best season of usage? Early to mid-spring is your best bet. The best results are usually achieved by removing or raking out dead leaves so the insecticide can be applied directly to the mineral soil. Also, ensure that the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen. Mixed at 1 ounce per inch of trunk diameter, this product is available in 32 ounces or 1-gallon concentrate, and it includes a measuring cup.

However, this product is much more expensive than some of the other options. So, if you have several trees you want to treat, it can be rather costly to use. In addition, there were a handful of customers that reported some troubles with packaging (i.e. products leaking, packaged with other items that were smashed, etc.).

Pros and Cons of the BioAdvanced Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed

ProsCons
This product uses clothianidin and imidacloprid, which are systemic insecticides that can be applied as soil drenches.This product is much more expensive than some of the other options out there.
It is easy to use. You just need to measure, mix, and pour at the base of your tree.If you have several trees you want to treat, it can be rather costly to use.
It gets rid of pests and prevents new infestations for up to 12 months.A handful of customers reported problems with packaging (i.e. products leaking, packaged with other items that were smashed, etc.).
You can use it on trees, shrubs, and potted plants. You can also use it on non-bearing fruit and nut trees listed on the product label.
It also works as a slow-release fertilizer and helps to improve and maintain plant health.
Best for Soil Drench
BioAdvanced Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed
  • Can be applied as a soil drench insecticide
  • Easy-to-use product
  • Prevents infestations for up to 12 months
  • Use to treat trees, shrubs, and potted plants
  • Best and most effective time of use is in mid-spring
Check Amazon

3. Best with Dinotefuran: Valent Safari Insecticide with 20% Dinotefuran 

Want to get the best Dinotefuran product for your ash tree? The Valent Safari Insecticide with 20% Dinotefuran is here to the rescue. It is a systemic basal trunk spray that helps to eliminate a wide range of aggressive pests including emerald ash borers. 

Dinotefuran is an extremely water-soluble insecticide that quickly moves throughout plants. It is unique because can be applied as a spray onto the bark. This allows it to move into and spread within the plant itself. This makes it the only insecticide available to target emerald ash borers in this way.

The Valent Safari Insecticide’s key ingredient, dinotefuran, is significantly more water-soluble and travels through plants more quickly than imidacloprid. It is important to note that this is a professional product and it is quite expensive. The best time to use it is after the trees have leafed out in mid to late spring. If you use it too soon, the insecticide may not stay long enough and in a sufficient amount to treat larvae under the bark when the time comes.

To apply as a spray, use 4 to 8 ounces per 100 gallons of water. 12 to 24 ounces per 100 gallons of water is recommended if applied as a drench. This product helps to control a large number of insects, including emerald ash borers, thrips, white grubs, white flies, aphids, adelgids, flatheaded borers and flatheaded appletree borers, leaf beetles, lacebugs, leafhoppers, sharpshooters, leafminers, psyllids, mealybugs, root weevils, scales, and roundheaded borers.

Pros and Cons of the Valent Safari Insecticide with 20% Dinotefuran 

ProsCons
This product contains 20 dinotefuran, which is a water-soluble insecticide that can move quickly throughout plants.As a professional product, this option is costly.
Dinotefuran is the only option that can be applied as a spray directly onto tree bark.If you apply it to your tree(s) too soon, the insecticide may not stay long enough and in a sufficient amount to treat pest larvae under the bark when the time comes.
This is a professional product.
This product helps to control a large number of insects, including emerald ash borers, thrips, white grubs, white flies, aphids, adelgids, flatheaded borers and flatheaded appletree borers, leaf beetles, lacebugs, leafhoppers, sharpshooters, leafminers, psyllids, mealybugs, root weevils, scales, and roundheaded borers.
Best with Dinotefuran
Valent Safari Insecticide with 20% Dinotefuran
  • Eliminates a variety of pests — including the emerald ash borer
  • Dinotefuran is key ingredient
  • Water-soluble and travels quickly through plants
  • Can be used in tandem with Pentra-Bark Surfactant
  • Professional-grade product
Check Amazon

4. Best for Affordability: FMC Astro Insecticide

FMC Astro Insecticide is a cost-effective, pest-killing product that is a good choice for budget-conscious users. Formulated with permethrin, FMC Astro Insecticide effectively controls emerald ash borers, beetles, cutworms, and other damaging tree pests. 

Even after lots of use, it keeps working and doesn’t wash away. You can apply it with ground or aerial equipment for maximum coverage. It is commonly applied as a protective cover spray to the trunk, branches, and foliage.  Apply 4 to 8 ounces per 100 gallons for foliar insect sprays, completely coating foliage. To manage borers and beetles on trunks and stems, use 1.0 to 5.3 quarts per 100 gallons and completely cover trunks and stems up to 10 feet from the ground.

Although the up-front cost is more expensive, this product is professional grade and lasts for a very long time. To get the best results, this product should be applied when insects appear or when you observe that they have been feeding. 

Pros and Cons of the FMC Astro Insecticide

ProsCons
This insecticide is formulated with permethrin.The upfront cost is expensive.
It effectively controls dozens of different plant pests.
After application, the product continues to remain and work effectively and doesn’t wash away when it rains.
You can apply it with ground or aerial equipment for maximum coverage.
It is most commonly used as a protective spray.
One bottle can treat several trees. Although pricey, it will last for a long time.
It is professional grade.
Best for Affordability
FMC Astro Insecticide 1 Gallon
  • Affordable price point
  • Controls borers, beetles, cutworms and other tree-damaging pests
  • Won't be washed away by water
  • Ideal for use on trunks, branches and foliage


Check Amazon

5. Best with Imidacloprid: Compare-N-Save Systemic Tree and Shrub Insect Drench 

Compare-N-Save Systemic Tree and Shrub Insect Drench is an imidacloprid-based product that destroys pests and protects the treated trees or plants for up to one year with one application. Imidacloprid mimics nicotine and works to control and kill pests like termites, sucking insects, fleas, and soil bugs. The insecticide is absorbed into the plant’s roots. This provides long-lasting protection against pests like emerald ash borers, birch leaf miners, Japanese beetles, aphids, and other bugs.

To get optimum results, use this product as part of a comprehensive tree and shrub health care program before problems arise. Just mix the specified amount of concentrate with water and pour it around the base of your tree. This will help protect your trees from bugs, and rain won’t wash it away.

However, it can take a while for trees to absorb the insecticide. In addition, some customers reported that the instructions are not super clear, and it can be difficult to know exactly how much to use. Overall though, customers reported that they were happy with the results, and this insecticide saved many trees from emerald ash borer infestations.

Pros and Cons of the Compare-N-Save Systemic Tree and Shrub Insect Drench 

ProsCons
This is an imidacloprid-based product.It can take a while for trees to absorb the insecticide and for it to start working.
It destroys pests and protects the treated trees or plants for up to one year with one application.Some customers said that the instructions were not very clear and it can be hard to know how much of the product you need to use.
The insecticide is absorbed into the plant’s roots, providing long-lasting protection against pests like emerald ash borers, birch leaf miners, Japanese beetles, aphids, and other bugs.
It won’t wash away when it rains.
Best with Imidacloprid
Compare-N-Save Systemic Tree and Shrub Insect Drench
  • Destroys pests
  • Protects trees and plants for up to one year
  • Root absorption provides lasting protection
  • Use as part of a preventive treatment program
  • Cost-effective, affordable price point
Check Amazon

Criteria: How to Choose the Best Emerald Ash Borer Treatments

Choosing the best treatment for emerald ash borer infestations can be tricky. There are many options available, and each situation is a little different. In addition, your state may have certain restrictions on which products you can use. Before purchasing an insecticide, you will need to consider a few important factors:

  • Infestation area
  • Tree species
  • Type of treatment
  • Budget

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

Infestation Area

Before making your purchase, you’ll want to measure or estimate the size of the area you want to treat. If you only need to apply insecticide to one tree you may not need a lot, but if you have several trees you’ll need to make sure your purchase provides enough insecticide to cover them all. Be sure to read the directions, especially for insecticides that you’ll need to mix with water.

Tree Species

While many emerald ash borer treatments work on a wide variety of trees, you’ll want to check what type of tree you have before making your purchase. There are some insecticides, for example, that you don’t want to use on fruit-bearing trees, or you may have to wait until the next year to use any fruit the tree produces. In addition, some treatments are designed to work better for certain tree species.

Type of Treatment

There are a few different methods for treatment when it comes to insecticides. Some products need to be sprayed on the tree, while others need to be poured on the soil surrounding the tree. Depending on which type of treatment you choose, you may need additional equipment, such as a sprayer or a 5-gallon bucket for mixing. You can also use spray treatments in combination with products that help to penetrate tree bark faster and more effectively. Always be sure to follow all labels and instructions exactly when applying any treatment method for optimal results.

Budget

Our reviews of the best emerald ash borer treatments include both expensive and more budget-friendly options. You’ll want to consider how much you want to spend before you purchase a treatment, but you don’t necessarily need to break the bank in order to save your infested trees. The size of the area you need to treat also factors in with your budget. If you need to treat lots of trees, you may want a cheaper option or one that can cover more area.

The 4 Different Types of Emerald Ash Borer Treatments

When it comes to using an insecticide to treat emerald ash borer infestations, there are typically four main active ingredients used: azadirachtin, emamectin benzoate, imidacloprid, and dinotefuran.

Azadirachtin

This insecticide treatment is made from the seeds of a neem tree. It can only be injected into the trunk of emerald ash borer-infected trees with special equipment, so you’ll need to hire a professional to do it. That way you can ensure that the insecticide works properly and won’t hurt the tree. Azadirachtin can last for two years after being injected.

Emamectin benzoate

This type of emerald ash borer treatment is done by giving an injection into the trunk of an infected tree. However, you’ll need to get a professional to do this because doing it incorrectly can cause further harm to your already injured tree. Studies show that emamectin benzoate is very effective in getting rid of emerald ash borers and can work for two years after treatment.

Imidacloprid

This type is often the cheapest option when it comes to emerald ash borer treatments. You can mix it with a few gallons of water and pour it around the base of a tree. However, you’ll need to remove any mulch that’s around the tree and make sure there aren’t any flowering plants nearby because imidacloprid can harm pollinating insects. Idacloprid treatments take about two or three weeks to start working after application. And if it doesn’t get enough water after application, then it won’t be effective.

Dinotefuran

Dinotefuran is a spray that is usually applied to the trunk of trees. It moves through the bark and tree faster than other insecticides, so it can be used to kill adult beetles in leaves quickly. If you want to use dinotefuran, it’s best applied in spring, about a month after buds break open. However, if you apply it too early, it won’t be able to kill larvae under the tree bark. You’ll need different amounts of the spray based on how big your tree is, so professional help might be needed for this.

About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

The 5 Best Emerald Ash Borer Treatments to Save Your Trees FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How do you know if there are emerald ash borers in your tree?

The leaves of your tree may start to get thinner, starting at the tips and edges. If you see a “D” shaped exit hole in the bark, that’s a sign of an emerald ash borer. Underneath, you’ll see “S” shaped galleries left by the insect as it burrows through the tree as well.

What trees do emerald ash borers eat?

Adult emerald ash borers eat the leaves of ash trees. The larvae of this bug like to eat the nutrient-rich tissue just beneath the bark of the tree, leaving behind S-shaped lines. This feeding process stops the trees from getting food and water from their roots to their leaves, causing them to die.

What do emerald ash borers look like?

Adults are 0.25 to 0.5 inches long and have narrow, bullet-shaped bodies with flat backs. Adult emerald ash borers also have a metallic appearance, with the abdomen beneath their wing covers being purple or red.

Larvae can grow up to 1.2 inches long and have creamy white coloration. They do not have any legs.

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