The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive insect from Asia that arrived in North America inside solid wood shipping containers. Over the next 20 years, these pests are predicted to infest all unprotected ash trees in Canada and the United States.
How the Emerald Ash Borer Infests Trees
The cause of death in most ash trees due to an Emerald Ash Borer infestation isn’t necessarily due to the insects themselves, but their eggs and larvae. The insects lay their larvae inside tree bark, where they feed on the sapwood inside the tree. Soon, there are enough larvae feeding on the sapwood inside the tree that vital water and nutrients are unable to reach upper areas of the tree, eventually killing off the ash tree completely.
Symptoms of Infestation
If you live in an area where other ash trees have been infested with this quick-spreading tree disease, check your ash trees for the following symptoms:
Crown Dieback: Due to larval feeding, nutrient and water flow is disrupted up the trunk and limbs, causing a nutrient depletion in the upper sections of the tree. This causes the loss of color and volume of leaves in the tree’s crown.
Defoliation: Defoliation refers to the eventual complete loss of foliage (leaves) on the ash tree due to nutrient and water deficiencies.
Bottom Growth: If you notice new branches growing from the bottom section of the trunk of an ash tree, chances are that the tree is infested with Emerald Ash Borer within the bark. As a tree becomes more infested, it will attempt to survive and grow new branches wherever it can; usually below where the larvae are located.
Woodpeckers: An infected ash tree is a feast for a woodpecker. Check trees for stripped bark, and for abnormal amounts of woodpeckers feeding on certain trees.
Decline in Ash Population: Once an area has been placed under quarantine due to the appearance of Emerald Ash Borer, your tree is highly likely to become infested if not treated immediately.
You can find more information from the Missouri Department of Conservation website and additional information about the pest in St Louis from this article – About Emerald Ash Borer in St. Louis
Treating and Protecting Ash Trees from Emerald Ash Borer
The method of treatment depends on if an ash tree is displaying symptoms of infestation, or if the tree is still considered healthy.
Insecticide Treatment: There are specific professional grade insecticides available to protect healthy trees from Emerald Ash Borer. When mixed with water, the insecticide is sprayed around the base of a healthy ash tree and carried throughout the entire organism through the root system. Insecticides are most effective from March thru May, but can be used later into the summer months as well. If you find that you are in an infected area, call a tree care professional to complete the task of applying insecticide safely and efficiently.
Trees which have been infected can also be treated with insecticide, but only if there is less than 30 percent dieback of the tree. Treating an infested tree does not guarantee that it will be saved, as the insecticide may not be effective in killing all existing larvae.
Removal and Replacement
Once over thirty percent of a tree has been killed due to Emerald Ash Borer, the best route of action is to completely remove the tree. This prevents the spreading of Emerald Ash Borer to other ash trees in the area, and increases safety by eliminating the chance of weak limbs crashing down. Many homeowners and cities choose to completely replace the ash tree with maple, birch, or other large shade trees with similar characteristics as the ash.
Trees are valuable. By choosing to protect ash trees before they have the chance to get infected can help save you a headache, money, and the environment. Jackson Tree Service can identify Emerald Ash Borer, and decide the best treatment choice for your ash tree. We also offer tree pruning, complete tree care, and tree removal, if necessary; to protect Missouri’s ash trees. Contact a tree specialist today.