My name is Ryan Tartisel and I am passionate about nature, I am writing this series based on what I am currently learning about Arboriculture, the study of trees. I recently moved to Connecticut and will be focusing on trees in my local environment. Everything I have written here is based on my research over the past few months on the topic and must not be interpreted as fact or law, I am learning a lot and simply want to pass on my findings as I see them, I encourage you to email me with ANY questions, or post comments as you see fit, Thanks!
We have a lot of wonderful trees here in the North East, one that seems to be getting a lot of attention lately is the ash tree and its apparent enemy the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). I have done some research on the topic and this is what I have discovered so far:
The EAB is a native insect to Asia, it is believed to have made it's way here in wood packing material via Asian imports, much like termites made their way to the east coast from Hollywood in film crates in the early part of the last century. The EAB was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and has promptly destroyed 20 million trees in that state alone over the past 10 years, that's a lot of ash trees. In July the EAB was found in Prospect Connecticut and almost certainly will spread throughout the state, we are going to lose a lot of ash trees.
Before I talk about some of the measures experts think we can take to save some of our ash trees, let me first talk about what it is exactly that they do that experts think is so detrimental to its health. By the time the beetle is full grown most of the physical damage that it has done is over. As an adult the EAB is a capable flier, they cruise around and specifically like leaves in the canopy of ash trees, it's to bad they didn't evolve to enjoy the taste of crab apple trees, I would be writing a very different article right now. After a week of eating the EAB lays it's larvae on the bark of the ash tree, that's when the real damage begins. The larvae bores its way into the tree to feed on the xylem layer of the tree, this is bad because the xylem is a major component of a trees water circulation system, without it, after a few years the tree will die.
In North America the EAB is considered to be pretty well established with few natural predators if any to be completely eradicated; according to what I have read, but the spread of the beetle can be slowed. Slowing the spread of this pest will give us the chance to prepare for the loss of our ash trees, and give nature time to control the pest on its own, whether it is through a bird that starts to include EAB larvae in its diet, or a disease that affects the EAB depletes its population, what will eventually lead to its permanent control is unknown. The State of Connecticut has enacted two programs to help slow the EAB, a quarantine of all ash materials leaving New Haven and documentation for any firewood brought into or moved within the state.
If there is an ash in your yard or a "specimen" ash that you are particularly fond of there are some treatment options for the Emerald Ash Borer, systemic insecticides can be applied to the trees in a few different ways, it is best to talk to a certified arborist about what direction you should take. As with most things, treatment is best done as a preventative measure, and will most likely need to be done on an annual basis.
What seems to be important now is that people start talking about the Emerald Ash Borer and prepare for it, tell your neighbors and friends to take notice of the ash trees in their yards. It is almost inevitable that anyone who has an ash tree is going to need to do something for it, it may die and have to be cut down, or you may want to start treating the tree now and save it. Any way you slice it public awareness and preventative measure are going to be important to making an informed decision.