Emerald Ash Borer - The Dangerous Beauty of Lehigh County

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sometimes, those of us in the tree and/or plant industry become transfixed with the very pests we work hard to prevent and eradicate. The Emerald Ash Borer is a perfect example of this. You gotta give pests some credit – not only are they incredibly adaptable, they often evolve to resist the very treatments we egotistical humans work so hard to create!

Emerald ash borer

In the case of the Emerald Ash Borer, its hard not to admire the absolute beauty of this most harmful and destructive little beastie. That’s why we’ve referred to her here as a Dangerous Beauty.

Emerald Ash Borers Are Working Their Black Magic Here in Lehigh County

Unfortunately, this dangerous beauty has been found working her destructive magic right here in our own county. If you’re in the business of trees, resulting industry headlines rival those of any natural disaster:

  • Emerald Ash Borer Invasion!
  • Loveland Prepares for Emerald Ash Borer Disaster!
  • The Emerald Ash Borer Has Destructive Impact on Wisconsin Trees!

It can sound a little extreme, but it’s no laughing matter. Our Ash trees are part of our Pennsylvania heritage. They have an average lifespan of about 100 years, and trees that grow in favorable locations and are well taken care of can live decades beyond that. Trees that spend more than a century providing beauty, shade and a home for a refuge for birds and wildlife deserve a little respect.

Signs of an Emerald Ash Borer Infestation include:

  • D-shaped holes on the trunks of trees (these are the exit route for adults when they emerge after metamorphosing from their larval state).
  • S-shaped tracks left by larva that wiggle their way around as they eat their way through bark.
  • Heavier-then-normal woodpecker action on your Ash tree (woodpeckers think the larval form of Emerald Ash Borers are Delicious!)
  • Trees that appear dead, or dying, at the top but are projecting new growth from the bottom (the poor tree’s effort to save itself).
  • The presence of beautiful, metallic green beetles, about ½ inches long, with a tapered abdomen.
  • Sickly looking ash trees.

They certainly deserve protection from one of their greatest threats – the Emerald Ash Borer. We recommend visiting the Emerald Ash Borer Information website to see pictures of this beautiful green beetle and to learn more about it.

Combatting  Emerald Ash Borers Requires a Long-Term Strategy

Emerald Ash Borers, Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), are an Asian beetle and ash trees are their favorite dish. They are a recent pest on the market, detected in the states around 2002 via solid-wood packing materials that arrived on shipping freights from China. Their first stop was Michigan, via ports on the great lake, and they quickly ate their way through ash trees all the way up into Windsor, Ontario in Canada.

The United States and Canadian governments quickly partnered up to begin combatting the borers but we have yet to be able to completely control or eradicate them. As a result, these invasive beetles are now regular inhabitants in areas of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania – as well as Michigan and Ontario. Infestations have also infested trees in Maryland, Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Quebec, Canada.

It’s a serious problem; and, as the above headlines attest, the problem is spreading westward as the result of multiple years of drought that have weakened hardwood ash forests out there. While those of us who love trees’ innate beauty and landscape benefits are concerned for aesthetic and emotional reasons, the timber industry is on high alert as well since the roughly eight-million ash trees growing on harvestable timberland are valued at $282.25 billion U.S. dollars.

All we can do is inform, educate and promote proactive defenses in the public arena – emphasizing that the battle against the Emerald Ash Borer requires a long-term strategy and management plan.

How to Prevent and Eradicate Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Infestations

It’s important to note that very minor infestations can be treated, medium to large-scale infestations require removal of the tree. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be proactive.

Here are some of the steps professionals are taking to prevent the continued spread of this voracious pest.

  • Management of infested trees. If an Ash tree is beyond resuscitating as the result of infestations, we remove the trees and destroy the wood – and the pests inside – using industry-standard practices to prevent the spread of adults, eggs or larva.
  • Protection of legacy trees. Municipalities around the country are removing sick or damaged trees as these are the most susceptible to infestation. Then, they flag legacy, or old-growth trees, and give them extra TLC to keep them healthy.
  • Injectable treatment and insecticides. You can proactively protect trees by using effective, injectable pesticides that have a proven track record. These can last up to two years. There are also some treatment that can be applied to the base of the tree, or registered insecticides can be sprayed as well – although these last two measures are less effective. Your diligence is the key to ensuring Emerald Ash Borers can’t take up residence.

Joshua Tree provides free consultations. Our crew is more than happy to inspect your trees and notify you if we see signs of a problem. If you have ash trees on your property, we HIGHLY recommend you have a professional come and inject them or that you spray them routinely with insecticides that are specifically targeted to work against these durable and incorrigible beetles.

Contact us online to schedule a consultation, or give us a call directly. (610) 365-2200. It is in all of our best interests to keep these dangerous beauties at bay.

Joshua Malik

Written by Joshua Malik

With an intense passion for arboriculture and lawn care, founder Joshua Malik brings to Joshua Tree over 20 years of experience in the tree and lawn care industry. And he expects the same passion in his team by employing representatives and field personnel who have achieved and maintained proper industry credentials to ensure clients benefit through best practices.