The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed recently that the emerald ash borer, a tiny, glitter-green insect from China expected to kill virtually all ash trees in the East, is devastating trees across North America as we speak. The emerald ash borer could cost the Grand River Conservation Authority between anywhere $4 to $8 million over the next decade and result in the destruction of tens of thousands of ash trees, according to the authority’s top forester.
The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive species with few-to-none natural predators in the United States. This leaves the insect to freely reproduce en masse. Its larvae feed just below an ash tree’s bark, interfering with the plant’s water and nutrient uptake and causing it to die.
After first being found in New York’s Cattaraugus County in 2009, the insect that is easily recognized by its vibrant green colour, has marched on to invade a total of 24 counties. Nevertheless most of the infested areas are small and localized and more than 98 percent of New York’s forests and communities are not yet infested.
New York has more than 900 million ash trees, representing about seven percent of all trees in the state and are all at risk of emerald ash borer. Urban and suburban ash trees are more at risk along with trees planted as ornamental trees in yards.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed recently that the borer had also attacked the white fringe tree, which is in the same family as not only the ash, but forsythia and lilac. Experts don’t know quite what to make of the find yet, other than that it is worrisome. “This is bringing up more questions than answers,” said Tom Tiddens, supervisor of plant health care at the Chicago Botanic Garden, which is part of a “sentinel plant network” that monitors pests and pathogens.
To control the spread of EAB, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation or DEC, used the Slow Ash Mortality (SLAM) strategy. This strategy means removing all infected trees as soon as possible, managing the boundaries of infection, continuing finding insecticides that can kill the pest and monitoring areas where suspected EAB presence is thriving.
Another effective strategy that can be used to fight EAB according to Nature World News is the usage of a female EAB decoy. When the male tries to mate it, it will receive a lethal zap that will kill it.