Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Emerald Ash Borer

Horticulturally, it's as if the theme from Jaws has been playing in the background for months previous, but the day so many dreaded has come:  Emerald Ash Borer has arrived.  What does this mean for us?  Well, for starters, I'd really enjoy the Ashes this October.  Their spectacular fall color may be a thing of the past in years to come.

The tiny metallic beetles that hail the demise of the Ash family start munching at the top of the tree and work their way down, making their presence initially difficult to detect.  Once a tree is infected, death is guaranteed.  According to the Illinois Department of Ag, chemical treatments can help prolong the infected tree's life, but eventually it will go.  Cities north of Kankakee county have been fighting the EAB for several years, with no success.  This year, Joliet will remove 700 infected trees.

Big Ten fans are highly competitive in the sports realm, but horticulturally, they're teaming up to attack the Emerald Ash Borer together.  The research team is working on several avenues of dealing with these pests.  Parasitic Oobius wasps, which attack EABs, offer a possible solution.  Another light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel potential is the development of a resistant strain of Ash.

Beetles spread primarily through the transportation of firewood.  Once relocated, they emerge in mid-May through June.  Identifying EAB can be challenging.  Signs of infestation include increased woodpecker activity (they feed on the beetles), canopy dieback, splitting bark and sprouting from trunk and roots.  

1.  Burn all standing firewood before May.

2.  Apply Bayer's soil drench in May.  Trees treated for 2 years have a fighting chance.  Start now!  I recommend watching Bayer's informative video.  However, it is important to note that an infected tree will not be saved by the drench.

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