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September 2015 - Emerald Ash Borer

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As you may well be aware of, one of our certified arborists was the first to detect the Emerald Ash Borer in South Eastern Pennsylvania, (specifically Warrington) in March of 2012.  This invasive and aggressive insect species continues to be an important concern for residents of Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh and surrounding counties.

What is emerald ash borer?

Emerald ash borer is an exotic beetle that was discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients. Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia. Emerald ash borer was found in Ohio in 2003, northern Indiana in 2004, northern Illinois in 2006 and western Pennsylvania in 2007.

Figure 1: Adult Emerald Ash Borer
Figure 1 - Adult Emerald Ash Borer

What damage does emerald ash borer cause?

Emerald ash borer larvae tunnel under the bark of the host tree, feeding on the phloem tissue. The damage caused by the larvae disrupts the flow of nutrients between the tree's roots and canopy. This damage results in canopy thinning, branch dieback, and eventually tree death. Larvae can destroy ashes within two to four years, but a heavy infestation could kill a tree in as little as one year.

Figure 2: Larvae
Figure 2 - Larvae

Does emerald ash borer attack other trees beside ashes?

Emerald ash borer is only known to attack ash trees in North America.

Figure 3: Emerald Ash Borer Entry Hole
Figure 3 - Entry Hole

Does emerald ash borer attack healthy ash trees?

While most native borers only kill severely weakened trees, emerald ash borer also kills healthy trees. Some of the trees attacked by the insect appear to have been stressed or weakened by drought, disease, or poor soil; however, many healthy ashes have been infested and killed as well.

What size trees does emerald ash borer attack?

Emerald ash borer infests ashes ranging from one-inch-caliper nursery stock to large, fully mature trees in forests.

Figure 4: Damaged Trees
Figure 4 - Damaged Trees

How can this pest impact Pennsylvania?

If not contained, emerald ash borer has the potential to wipe out ash as a component of our forests and landscapes. Ash is one of the most common Pennsylvania trees. It is also one of the primary commercial hardwoods in the United States and a very popular landscape tree. The spread of this insect threatens our natural resources, as well as the wood manufacturing, nursery, landscaping, and firewood industries that rely on ashes.

Are there any insecticides that kill emerald ash borer?

Research trials and experience have shown that different types of insecticides like MERIT Systemic Insecticide can protect trees from EAB.  Research suggests that best control will be obtained when treatments are initiated in the earliest stages of infestation before visible symptoms are present, or perhaps even the year before trees are infested. It is also important to realize that treatments will have to be repeated each year. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to remove and replace the tree.

Call one of our Certified Arborist to inspect your ash trees and recommend treatment so you can continue to enjoy the beauty of your ash trees.

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