Friday, January 15, 2010

Emerald Ash Borer-EAB

One of the most important topics in Minnesota, ranked third by the St. Paul Pioneer Press for this past 2009 year, was the identification of Emerald Ash Borer in a St. Paul neighborhood. It is widely know that this invasive insect, native to Asia, is known for its destruction of millions of Ash trees throughout Michigan and Ontario. First discovered in 2002 after ash trees began dieing by the thousands, they believe the insect had been in the Detroit area for up to 10 years previous to its discovery. Since that time the insect has been located in Pennsylvania, West Virgina, Maryland, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin and now in Minnesota.

There are many reasons why the control of this insect has been so difficutl. For one, controling of insects that feed under the bark has always been difficult. Secondly, ash trees have little natrual resistance to the Emerald Ash Borer and all ash trees are suceptible to the insect. No ash are safe, green, white, blue, black and european ash will also succome to the pest once infestation has occurred. Moutain ash is not the same genus species so it is not succeptible.

So what can be done, can trees be saved and why is it so difficult to find and detect if an ash tree has been infested? First of all this insect is considered very steathly and is difficult to find in or on a tree. The EAB is very small, only about the size of a dime. Secondly, the adults spend most of their time in the top third of a tree. A difficult location to climb to and search for the pest. And lastly signs of infestation do not show in the tree until at least the 3rd year of infestation. By that time it may be too late to save the tree as the infestation might be too far advanced.

There are many insecticide options for controlling EAB in our ash trees. I will not list them all or their method of control, but they have been well researched and univerisities are finding more ways each year to try to gain some leverage over this invasive species. How long does it take for the insect to spread once it is in the area? That is a difficult question. Researchers feel that the majority of the spreading has come from firewood. How else would it make a jump from Chicago to Milwaukee or from Milwaukee to St. Paul, it had to be transported. But for those in the infected area, how long we have until our trees are affected? That is the million dollar question that no one has the anwser to. What the researchers are saying is this, if you are within 15 miles of an infection site, you might want to consider treating your trees.

After attending an day seminar at the Northern Green Expo this year we gained a greater knowledge of the EAB and to what our options are here on the golf course for saving the majority of our ash trees. We have about 130 ash trees here at Minikahda. Thankfully that is all we have. Some golf courses have over 300. Not only can this be very expensive to treat all 300, but if they are ulitmately lost to the insect, removal and replacement become extremely expensive.

With only 130 ash trees on our property, our first priority will be to identify those trees as to their location and then decide based on the health, location and quality of the tree, if it's worth our time and effort to try and save and maintain the tree or are we better severed by removing it and replacing it with another type of tree. My feeling is that it is impossible to believe that we are going to save all 130 trees from EAB and that even if treated we will never lose a tree to the insect. Just as treated American elm trees sometimes lose the battle, this may utimately be the situation with the ash trees. But most importantly, come the beginning of the season, we will have a game plan in place and will act accordingly to recommendations based on sound research and information available.

If you have questions about EAB feel free to give me a call or probably one of the best things you can do is go to this website to educate yourself before you call me.

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