Saturday 5 March 2011

Emerald Ash Borer Update

As this potent pest inches closer to your property, do you have a plan in place to protect your valuable Ash trees? Treating your Ash trees before this bug arrives has proven effective in protecting Ash trees from this deadly pest.

Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis)was discovered in the Detroit region in 2002 but was likely established in that area in the mid 1990's. This small brilliantly green insect, is from China, where it is a minor forest insect living on weakened Ash trees in it's native forests. Our native Ash trees have no natural resistance and are excellent hosts to this pest. Once infested with this pest Ash trees decline and eventually die in 2 to 3 years Small or stressed trees may die in one season. As with many invasive pests that originate elsewhere, like the Asian Longhorn beetle, it has proven a destructive pest outside its native habitat. Unlike the Asian Longhorn Beetle it has tremendous reproductive abilities and is able to fly easily, spreading quickly.

One mode of transport this beetle shares with other destructive pests is it's ability to spread by hitchhiking on firewood. Workers from the Detroit auto industry have described unpacking containers of imported auto parts in the mid 90's containing wood crates and packing materials that may have been the original source of the infestation. This scenario is consistent with the beetles life cycle that includes pupating in dead drying wood. Efforts to eradicate the pest have been largely unsuccessful, leading one official to describe it as " cutting a hole in a donut". The beetles have often spread beyond the site of initial infestation by the time they are detected and treated.

Efforts are taking place to look for naturally resistant selections of Ash as well as locate natural predators that may reduce Emerald Ash Borer's destructive abilities. What can you as a home owner do to be prepared for this pest? If it has been detected in your area you will need to protect Ash trees you want to preserve.

First you will need to assess if you have Ash trees on your property and what the appropriate action you should take. If you have Ash trees and want to protect them, you should maintain the vigor of those trees with appropriate cultural measures. These may include fertilization, root stimulants and mulching. Once EAB is close to your area, there are proven systemic treatments that can prevent infestation by EAB. Preparation and prevention are your best defenses against Emerald Ash Borer damage. Current estimates of the risk posed by EAB are described as follows:

0-5 miles from a known EAB site- Extreme Risk,

5-10 miles from an EAB site High Risk,

10 miles and greater from an EAB site Elevated Risk.

If you are in an area that is at elevated risk you should be developing a plan with the help of your ISA Certified Arborist. Take the time to contact your ISA Certified Arborist today and have your property accessed for the potential impact of Emerald Ash Borer. Panic is pointless, preparation is priceless.