Thursday, July 5, 2012

Our big, beautiful ash tree has been bitten by the little emerald green bug...

Ever since I first heard about the Emerald Ash borer invading Warren county several years ago, I've dreaded the day it would come knocking on our door. We have a huge ash tree in our back yard, and as my son, Matty, put it, "It's part of our family." I've had it treated for several years with "preventative" trunk injections, but unfortunately, the treatments didn't work. Early this summer, we saw our first "D" bored into the bark. Last year, I noticed a few limbs had died, but I didn't want to believe the borer had reached us. After all, the tree was supposed to be protected from the metallic green insect through yearly pesticide treatments. I chalked it up to normal aging and squeezed my eyes shut. This spring, however, suckers (epicormic shoots) started sprouting from the lower limbs. I knew epicormic growth was the kiss of death, because those shoots indicated tree stress and were a sure sign the Emerald Ash borers had taken up residence. Then a few weeks ago, Matty saw a metallic emerald green bug walking on some rocks near the tree. We decided to take a closer look. We didn't have to look far...

The little D-shaped Emerald Ash borer holes were easy to spot. I was surprised how perfectly they were bored into the bark. There's no mistaking them.


There were several grouped together on some branches, while others just had one or two. It breaks my heart to see these holes and know that just under the bark, Emerald Ash borer larvae are eating away at the cambium, destroying the xylem and phloem, which would eventually cut off the flow of carbohydrates, nutrients, and water. As a result, our gorgeous tree could be dead in two seasons...

When I saw these suckers growing on the lower branches this spring I knew we were in trouble. Shoots like these, often called "waterspouts," have sprouted from an epicormic bud on the branch and indicate the tree is under stress. Epicormic shoots are a clear sign of Emerald Ash borer infestation.

Emerald Ash borers were first detected in Detroit, Michigan in 2002. It took them until 2006 to make it to our area (they probably hitched a ride in a batch of firewood). When they first arrived in our area they moved about a quarter- to a half-mile a year, but now they are reported to be moving about 20 miles a year. I guess we should be thankful we got as many years as we did out of our huge tree. I wish the trunk injections had worked. While looking up treatment options for this post, I came across a Cincinnati tree service company that offers a 100% guarantee to their trunk injections. I think I'm going to give them a call and see if they can save the tree. They use a special solution of Emamectin Benzoate, called TREE-äge. They use a different style of arbor plugs than the treatments we've received over the past couple of years, and they are supposed to be much less expensive (yeah!). Click here to see their process for protecting ash trees. They also only require treatment every two years. I'll let you know if I use them, and if their process works.

Not all hope is lost... 
Individual ash trees may be able to be saved in residential areas using bi-annual pesticide applications, but that solution will not work for the thousands of trees in our forests. Are they all doomed? Recently I read on the Ohio Archaeology Blog about an Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) experiment that's being conducted at the Cedar Bog Nature Preserve in Champaign County in central Ohio. Cedar Bog is a fen and is home to many rare plants, including a huge stand of White Cedar trees (glacial relicts). A good portion of Cedar Bog is a hardwood swamp forest made up of Black Ash, Green Ash, White Ash and Pumpkin Ash, so prevention of an Emerald Ash Borer infestation is critical. If the experiment works, salvation will be in the form of a teeny, tiny exotic wasp. Back in 2003 the USDA found three natural predators of the EAB in its native home of Asia. These non-stinging wasps are parasitic on the larvae and eggs of the imported pest, and experiments have found that they parasitize only the EAB. In October of 2011, the first EAB was found in a pheromone trap at Cedar Bog, and on May 25, 2012, the first round of parasitoid wasps was released. Click here to read all about the Cedar Bog experiment on the Ohio Archeology blog. Let's hope it works!!

 
This video by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture shows the lifecycle of the Emerald Ash Borer.


This video by the University of Nebraska shows how to identify the Emerald Ash Borer.


Have you hugged your Ash tree lately? If you haven't you might want to. You never know how long it will be around...

16 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

oh, i hope you can still save it! how sad! i remember the dutch elm disease that swept thru the area i was raised in. really sad to see all those trees die.

Lynette said...

So sad for your family to have to go through this.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kelly, That is just so very sad... I'm so sorry... I'm sure that tree seems like part of the family...

We had a whopper of a storm late this afternoon --worst wind (70 mph) since we moved here. Lost 2-3 trees in back on golf course property... Too close for comfort. I was SCARED... BUT--we are fine...

Hugs,
Betsy

KaHolly said...

So frustrating, I know.

holdingmoments said...

I hope you can save your tree Kelly.
Sounds like a nasty little bug.

Frank said...

Hi Kelly. I'm very sorry to learn of this infestation and can only hope you find some way of slowing these little blighters down. The idea of using natural predators always appeals to me rather than using chemicals but sometimes it is unfortunately the only solution.

Give the Ash a hug from me. FAB.

Steve Borichevsky said...

We've lost all of our Elms to Dutch elm disease and our chestnut trees are long gone. I hate to think that we will soon lose our ash trees as well.

Kathy McDonald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy McDonald said...

Kelly, Thanks for this excellent post. There is much confusion about the EAB out there and I have passed this post on. We have treated all of the Ash trees in our yard...keeping our fingers crossed!
Kathy

Kathy A. Johnson said...

I'm so sorry your tree family member (I agree with Matty) is under attack. I love that our house is surrounded by trees and would grieve over the loss of any one of them. I hope your counterattack is successful!

Montanagirl said...

I hope you can save your tree. That's really sad when a nice tree dies. The videos were very informative. Nice post, Kelly!

Roy said...

That is bad news Kelly, England suffered badly some years ago with a similar thing happening to our Elm tree population. Now there are hardly any left. This was caused buy a beetle and it was called Dutch Elm Disease.

Gillian Olson said...

These insects are small but can be so distructive, we have lost a lot of trees here to the pine beetle.

Hilke Breder said...

I know a tree can become a member of the family and I know what it feels like to lose it. When I lived in Iowa City a huge Elm was shading our house.... I hope the treatment will work for your ash!

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone. Sooner or later, we will all be in the same boat in the U.S. This little bug is killing all the ash trees and is spreading faster as each year passes. I remember when Dutch Elm swept through. My aunt and uncle had a huge, huge, huge elm tree in their yard. I remember seeing the little cups stuck in its trunk, as they tried to save it. Unfortunately, the treatments didn't work for that tree either.

...all of our baseball bats are made from ash trees. I wonder what Louisville Slugger has planned for the future?

Mary said...

I am so sorry for you and your tree! We have a green ash, too and I am dreading the day the borers get here. They have reached Indiana, but not us yet. I love my ash tree!