Seriously, if you live in the Midwest or even in a few spots on the East Coast you probably do have borers in your Ash. The problem is the Emerald Ash Borer. This insect is native to Asia and originally was imported in packing material in the early 1990s to North America. Initially the pest entered into Michigan in the Detroit area and then spread to Toledo Ohio. After that it spread into Windsor, Canada, and has been found in Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Iowa, Virginia and Maryland since then. This pest shows no signs of slowing down. Millions of Ash trees have been destroyed and there is very little hope of saving the Ash trees that are left. Experts put the introduction of this non-native pest on par with the Chestnut Blight, and Dutch Elm Disease in the 1900s. Both of these epidemics virtually wiped out all of their respective host plants. The Borer can be identified by its metallic green color, body size of about 3/8”-1/2” long and a 1/16” wide. E.A.B. has six legs and large blackish eyes. Exit holes in the bark of Ash trees the shape of a D is a good sign of EAB activity as well. Fortunately E.A.B. only feeds on Ash trees. If you have a prized Ash tree and you can not live without it chemical treatment with Imidocloprid, an insecticide has been found to be effective if done annually. However, this process is not very economic in the long run. Treatment must start before the tree is under attack by E.A.B. If the tree is already showing the D shaped exit holes it is too late. The U.S. government working with the Chinese government has discovered 2-3 different varieties of parasitic wasps that are native to Asia that feed on EAB. There is no North American predator for EAB unfortunately. Initial studies of these wasps look encouraging. However to get the numbers of the wasps up to the levels of the borers will take several years. Serious consideration must also be made before introducing another non native species to North America. So what do you do now that your Ash tree is dead, dieing, or you just had it cut down? First of all, do not transport the firewood anywhere other than across the street to your neighbors firewood pile. Transporting the Emerald Ash Borer in firewood from county to county and state to state has been a major cause of the spread of this devastating pest. Expensive fines have been established as well to punish people moving ash wood out of quarantined areas, so refrain from such activity!. The next thing to consider is an Ash tree replacement. First, how tall of a tree do you desire? Second what color would you like it to be in the fall? Third, would you like a conifer (aka as evergreen), such as a Blue Spruce, White Pine or Austrian Pine instead of a deciduous tree such as a Maple or Oak? If you are replacing more than one tree diversity is the way to go. Do not replace all your Ash trees with one species of tree, mix it up a little. For example, try a Greenspire Linden and a Sugar Maple. If you need a third tree consider the Hardy Rubber Tree. You could also pair up a Crimson King Norway Maple with a Sawtooth Oak. Sugar Maple and River Birch would be a cool combo as well. The Sugar Maple would be orangeish – red and the River Birch would be yellow in the fall. Whatever you do diversity is key so you do not have the same problem in the future. I will reiterate if you choose one species of tree such as a Pear and we unintentionally import a pest from Iceland that feeds only on Pear trees your going to be rowing the same boat as you are with the Ash trees. Believe it or not we have people coming to the nursery that want to take that row of Ash trees out and put a bunch of Red Maples in its place. Even after preaching diversity to these folks half of them will still use one species of tree. Another suggestion for Ash tree replacements would be Honey Locust and Sun Valley Red Maple. Once again, one tree turns red in the fall (Sun Valley) and the Honey Locust turns yellow. The leaves will be totally different as well. The Locust has a leaf made up of several leaflets and the Maple just has a typical Maple leaf. Contrast is vital to good landscape design. The time to replace these trees is now! Do not wait. This is a huge problem that is being overlooked by the general public in the areas that the borer is establishing itself in. Ash trees make up 10-30% of all the trees in various forest, and city areas depending where you are located. Imagine how many dead trees that is. Once you know you have a problem it is too late. No one is going to get lucky and be overlooked by this pest. The time to start replanting is now!
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