A massive emerald ash borer infestation has affected 9,000 trees on Grand River Conservation Authority property, a Canadian watershed management agency which is responsible for conservation and preservation in Southwestern Ontario to Port Maitland on Lake Erie. Officials are closely monitoring the situation in anticipation of more trees being damaged. The most difficult part of containing this infestation is the trees proximity to infrastructure, utility rights of way, buildings and other high usage areas.
The emerald ash borer beetle (Agrilus planipennis or EAB) is an exotic pest first discovered first in Detroit in 2002. It is thought that the borers arrived in the United States in solid wood packing on shipping containers from Asia. Since its initial discovery populations have been found in 20 additional states and in Ontario, Canada. EAB is a real threat to ash trees, regulations and quarantines, developed and implemented by the USDA, are in place but all species of native ash trees are susceptible and the possibility that shade trees, lumber and woodlot trees may be lost still remains. Research is being conducted at several universities to more fully understand the life cycle of the emerald ash borer, find new methods for detection, control and containment. Quarantines are in place to prevent spread through movement of firewood, logs or nursery stock. While adult beetles cause minimal damage with their leaf nibbling, larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees inhibiting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. To date millions of trees have been killed and have cost property owners, municipalities, nursery owners and wood product industries tens of millions of dollars.
Civic officials in the city of Kitchener in Southern Ontario have set aside $11 million dollars, with which they plan to replace 5,000 ash trees by the year 2022. Forestry personnel maintain that replacing the trees is part of their plan for restoring the forests once the invasive beetles are under control. The first stages of the reforestation plan will remove and dispose of infected trees over the course of 10 years and cost approximately $8 million. Kitchener city forest technologist, Adam Buitendyk, says that quarantine measures alone have proven ineffective and so they will only continue to quarantine a few hundred trees and remove as many others as possible.
Learning to identify EAB, signs of infestation and reporting it to your state’s environmental conservation department is the number one way to assist in controlling the destruction. Check their website for helpful forms and contact information. Other things to keep in mind include not moving firewood; “Buy local, burn local”, other regulated material that shouldn’t be moved interstate include; nursery stock, wood debris and lumber, inspect your trees and report signs or symptoms immediately. Check for quarantine zones in your area, if you are within or near a quarantine zone plant only non-host species and allow authorized workers access to your property for inspection, monitoring and installation of insect traps. If you suspect trees on your property or in your community are being damaged by emerald ash borer, contact your arborist and visit http://www.savatree.com/insect-mite-treatments.html for more information.