Ash trees are both beautiful and majestic and provide a perfect canopy of shade. They’re some of the most popular trees around and make up 10-40 percent of local urban forests. But there’s an enemy in the air and it’s out to destroy these lovely creatures. This enemy is the emerald ash borer.
This invasive, wood-boring beetle has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the U.S. and is already on its way to destroying millions more. The best way to get rid of this deadly pest is to remove the tree entirely, but there may be other solutions.
The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an exotic insect that’s native to China and eastern Asia. This insect hitched a ride to the U.S. in some wood packing material more than ten years ago. The larvae chew through trees and destroy the system that transports water and nutrients from the tree’s roots to the leaves and branches. The tree dies a slow death because full infestation takes 2-4 years.
The EAB infestation is causing widespread damage in 19 states and is still spreading, most likely due to the sale of firewood that crosses state lines. What makes it worse is that ash trees in the U.S. don’t have a natural resistance to EAB.
If a tree is already badly infested, it’s important to cut down the tree immediately because the beetle will quickly move on to a neighboring tree to settle in.
The EAB sounds like a pest that’s unstoppable, but there are some proactive measures communities can take to prevent and treat these beetles from destroying ash trees.
There is a treatment that can save the trees and it usually involves injecting the affected tree with an insecticide. Another approach involves drenching the soil around the tree or the lower part of the trunk with insecticide. It’s important to apply any treatment every 12 months and use a product that’s made specifically to treat EAB.
Insecticides sound scary, but cutting down a tree or letting the tree die with the beetle chowing down is giving the EAB more time to infest other trees in the area. Rest assured that it’s very doubtful insecticides targeting EAB are harmful to humans or the environment.
Another treatment option is putting up special traps that are available and can capture the bugs that are flying in for a feast.
Don’t let these little green bugs fool you; they’re out to eat your ash trees. Stop them before it’s too late.