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Emerald Ash Borer Scourging Rochester Area

If you have an ash tree in your yard that’s still alive, you need to take action now to save it from the dreaded emerald ash borer (EAB). I raised this warning here about a month ago, but read on and you’ll see why I am raising it again.

I’ve visited Michigan, where this pest first jumped ship after its trip here from Asia. I couldn’t believe the destruction, and I didn’t want to see a similar fate befall our local trees. But now I’m seeing even more extensive destruction.

Except for certain isolated pockets where the EAB has gotten a foothold by hitching a ride in illegally moved firewood, the pest is moving across New York State from west to east. I’ve seen magnificent ash trees on the west side of Rochester turned into little more than expensive firewood. The damage on the west side of Monroe County is worse than that in Michigan where these bugs were destroying trees before entomologists were even able to identify them.

This spring is the last opportunity for ash tree owners in eastern Monroe and adjacent counties to save their trees. Trees can be saved by having them treated with preventive treatments before they are attacked, and then retreated every two years. Failure to have a preventive applied is a sure death sentence for those trees.

Once the EAB attacks an ash tree, the tree typically dies within three to five years. However, trees on Rochester’s west side have been dying faster than I have seen anywhere else. Treatment may be effective after a tree is attacked if two-thirds of the tree is still living. These treatments have to be made annually.

All treatments, including preventive treatments, are systemic, which means the material has to be injected directly into the tree or into the soil around the base of the tree. Only systemic applications are effective because the EAB lives most of its life inside the tree. The most effective treatment material is restricted to use only by New York State Certified Pesticide Applicators.

Soon, the metallic green adults will bore “D” shaped exit holes, emerge and mate. The females will make indentations in the bark high in the tree and lay an egg in each indentation. As soon as the larva hatches, it bores into the tree and begins feeding on the food that is being distributed throughout the tree in the phloem. Next winter, the larvae will pupate inside the tree and that generation of adults will emerge next spring to continue this cycle of death.

From a purely financial standpoint, preventive treatments can be made for a good, long time for the amount that it costs to remove a dead ash tree and replace it. That’s why I urge you to call now to schedule a preventive treatment. If you want to see the destruction resulting from this insidious pest, take a drive through established neighborhoods in Greece, Gates, Chili and the other western suburbs.

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