LAKEWOOD, Ohio -
“It’s 100 percent fatal to any ash tree it gets in contact with,” said John Palmer standing under a not-so-shady ash tree that had no leaves. The “it” that Palmer was referring to is Agrilus Planipennis Fairmaire, commonly known the emerald ash borer.
The beetle-like insect is not native to this country and only infests ash trees, boring inside of them, devouring the trees vascular system and preventing it from absorbing nutrients. If left untreated, the tree will die in two to five years.
The ash borer was first discovered in this country in 2002, around Detroit.
“In the 10 years since then, it’s as far west as Missouri, maybe even farther. It’s into Canada, down in Tennessee; it’s up the East Coast. They’re estimating 75 to 100 million ash trees have been killed,” said Palmer, an arborist for PlanetCare Landscape.
The damage to the trees starts to show first at the tips of the branches, and then moves down through branches until the tree is dead from lack of nourishment. The tree loses all its leaves and looks like trees in dead of winter. All that’s left to do is cut the tree down.
Palmer showed NewsChannel5 a picture of a tree-lined street in North Ridgeville that lost about 60 mature trees. They all needed to be cut down.
Palmer is now using a new weapon in the battle of the beetles. It's a pressurized intravenous system that pumps a pesticide into the base of an infested tree. The IV lines are inserted into the tree through holes that Palmer drills through the bark. The toxin is absorbed into the tree’s vascular system and is poisonous only to the ash borer larvae as they feed on the tree.
“This particular pesticide, emamectin benzoate, is 99 percent effective in killing both the adults and the larvae up to two years in trees,” said Palmer, “and that’s just really revolutionized the industry.”
The pesticide was developed for use only by professionals and isn’t available without proper training in the use of the IV system. It costs about $600 for a liter.
Palmer said more cities are starting to use this newly-developed system to save trees from the effects of the emerald ash borer. Palmer and other arborists throughout the country are fighting the good fight against this tiny destructive insect one tree at a time.
For more information about the emerald ash borer click on this link: www.emeraldashborer.info
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