In the last 20 years, the emerald ash borer has brought devastation to the forests of North America. This tiny beetle suddenly came onto the scene around the year 2002. The insect, which is native to eastern Russia and parts of Asia, may have stowed away on cargo ships carrying lumber while crossing the Pacific during the early 2000s. Today, this invasive species is killing thousands of North American ash trees at an alarming rate of speed. The ash borer is now found in five Canadian provinces and 35 U.S. states.
The Life Cycle of the Emerald Ash Borer
The key to understanding the ash borer’s destruction is to know its life cycle. The insect has a one to two-year life cycle, and ash trees are a part of the entire sequence. First, adults feed on the leaves of the ash tree during the mating process, which is typically at the height of summer. Then, female ash borers lay eggs along the crevices of the ash tree’s bark, up to 100. After seven to 10 days, the eggs hatch.
Next, larvae develop and grow by feeding on the ash tree’s wood pulp and tissue. The larvae create long, snakelike burrows within the core of the tree, causing significant damage. Once the larvae have matured, they dig even deeper within the tree and hibernate. When spring arrives again, the adult beetles emerge from the tree, creating damaging holes on its exterior.
Ash Trees at Risk
The ash borer’s efficiency and speed with its feeding and use of the ash tree have created a crisis in the arborist community. In the last two decades, this invasive pest has killed approximately 100 million ash trees in North America. Just in Hamilton alone, the ash borer has destroyed 20,000 trees in the past few years. Each year of the insect’s life cycle results in new dead or dying trees.
The reason so many researchers and tree enthusiasts are worried about the ash tree’s demise is because of how important this species is to North America’s forests. Ash trees populate dense forests on the continent, and with their dwindling numbers, the forest’s ecosystem is threatened. Additionally, the ash tree is a popular source of wood for consumer products like furniture and sports equipment.
Efforts To Save Ash Trees
Today, there is a new effort to save the ash trees from the invasive ash borer insect. Tree specialists and forestry workers are removing dead or dying ash trees and working to replace each one with a new healthy planted tree.
Biologists are also working on breeding more ash trees that are genetically resistant to the insect’s damage. Another way scientists are fighting the ash borer is by releasing communities of wasps that target and kill this invasive pest.
How You Can Help
Homeowners and residents can also pitch in and help save the ash tree population in North America. First, property owners should take the time to learn about the trees in their yard and understand how to identify an ash tree. The professionals at Martin’s Tree Service can also help survey properties for tree identification and management.
People in the region should be on the lookout for the emerald ash borer, a bright metallic green insect around the trees. Additionally, it’s essential to check for signs of ash borer damage, such as splitting bark, tree canopy dieback, epicormic sprouts or an increased presence of woodpeckers on the tree. Some trees can be saved with professional service, but it may be necessary to remove a dying tree and replace it.
Get help with the trees on your property with Martin’s Tree Service. The professionals at Martin’s can partner with homeowners to keep the area’s ash tree population from disappearing. Learn more about tree removal services to keep your yard healthy.