Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kiss Your Ash Goodbye?

By now many Southeastern Pennsylvania residents have noticed bright purple boxes hanging along roadsides. Tree lovers may have noticed that those gizmos are hung in ash trees. They are traps designed to detect the arrival of the latest invasive tree pest, Emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis.

Emerald ash borer has been moving east from Michigan since 2002, where is it was first detected in the U.S. EAB is native to Eastern Russia and Asia and was probably introduced on wooden pallets or other wooden packing material.
It was found on the western border of Pennsylvania in 2007 and central PA in 2009. For more info about EAB see this Penn State site. States that have lived with the infestation longer, such as Ohio, also have excellent information. For some nice color pictures of the insect and its damage, see this.

I have very little good news about this insect but read on if you are still interested.

Good news… No Emerald Ash Borers have been detected in Southeast PA as of June 21, 2011.
Bad news… Expect a detection any day now.

Good news…Only ash trees will be affected by this insect.
Bad news…. EAB has killed about 40 million ash trees so far. All ash species are susceptible and EAB kills most ash in its path.

Good news… Ash trees make up small percentage (3-4%) of the trees in Pennsylvania.
Bad news… Southeast Pennsylvania has a much larger percentage of ash. Ever since I learned about EAB, I have been impressed with the number of ash in Bucks County. See this to learn what ash looks like. I blogged about this in 2008.

Good news…. Ash can be protected from EAB infestation. Several insecticide options are available. Arborists are prepared to do the work. Do-it-yourself is possible.
Bad news…. Insecticide applications ain’t cheap and will require annual re-treatment with most products. Also, it will be impractical to treat all but the most important ornamental trees. Woodland ash are going to be toast.

Good news…Ash makes excellent firewood.
Bad news… The cost of tree take-downs is significant

Good news… Woodpeckers eat EAB larvae.
Bad news… Not fast enough to prevent tree death.

Good news…Entomologists are working to introduce parasites and predators to control EAB
Bad news.. .This stuff takes a long time and the beast is at the door.

Good news....Land Grant Universities in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and our Own Penn State have posted a tremendous amount of excellent EAB information. See above.
Bad news… none of it will stop expanding range of this destructive insect

Good news…. Many wonderful tree species remain in our woods and landscapes
Bad news… You can kiss you ash goodbye.