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Watch out for Emerald Ash Borer

— With the warm weather here and most of us spending time outside tending to our landscapes, I thought it was an appropriate time to remind everyone to be on the lookout for ash trees that look sick or stressed. Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been tracking the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer in the United States. Since 2009, it has been tracking its spread in New York state. The Emerald Ash Borer is a glittering, almost metallic-looking green beetle about a half inch long. This bug was unintentionally brought over from China on shipping crates and has been spreading across the United States ever since. Since this bug is native to Asia, it has no natural predators here in the U.S., and none of our trees have any natural defenses against it. It was first discovered in Onondaga County about two years ago. Although the bug is harmless to humans and other trees and plant life, it is unfortunately fatal to every species of ash tree.

During its reproduction cycle, the female Ash Borer lays eggs on the leaves of an ash tree. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will burrow deep into the tree. Eventually, the tiny burrows dug by the larvae kill the ash tree by cutting off the tree’s ability to circulate water and nutrients. This process, from infestation to death, will take two to three years. While inoculation is possible, it is rather expensive and must be performed several times to be effective. On a large scale, inoculation is too costly and labor-intensive to be practical. As a result, Onondaga County, and most of the other counties in the state, has started a program to remove all ash trees on county-owned land that present a risk to people and property when the trees eventually die and fall.

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