Sunday, April 11, 2021

Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer has been threatening to establish in NH for the past decade. I first became aware of the invasive beetle while walking on a back road in the southwestern portion of the state, noticing odd purple boxes well up in the trees.  I learned they were there for detection, and as yet, none had been found in NH.

When it first showed up, it was not in some border town, but well into central NH in a state park.  Meaning that it had arrived on someone's firewood from another state. It is the very typical human attitude to regard small chances as zero chance - especially when it will cost you a few bucks to buy firewood near the park here. We have a dozen excuses.  We are sure we won't be doing any harm. And then we do.

I saw the damage they do to the ash, called "blonding" over near my son's house today.  He and his neighbors are suddenly going to have to take out a dozen trees, and we don't know how extensive this is. I took one look at the result and said "that tree's not going to make it." I saw more - none of them will make it, you can see on sight. There are efforts to slow the spread in the hopes of identifying some solution in time, but thus far the loss of most North American species of ash looks inevitable. I like ashes and will be sad to see them go. I had two large ones at my first house. They are very good firewood, splitting easily and even usable green in a pinch. Ash wood wet and ash wood dry, a king shall warm his slippers by. Ash is used for baseball bats, for flooring, for canoe paddles.

The tree has been important culturally, in myth and legend. Now it looks like it is going away.


Dan Kurt said...

RE:"Now it looks like it [Ash tree] is going away."

Then perhaps not. Almost 120 years ago the American Chestnut, a climax species in Eastern Forests, was killed by a blight wholesale and to extinction eventually. But some somehow survived and are now coming back. It may take 1000 years but one can expect in the future American Chestnuts to agian reign supreme.

Watch: Tom Wessels

Dan Kurt

james said...

I've never heard that rhyme before. Maybe it will help persuade our neighbor to take down his dying ash tree before it takes itself down.

Douglas2 said...

Several years ago we rented an upper floor apartment shaded by tall trees, and soon after we moved in the trees started to lose leaves and branches.

Our landlord was sad about this, saying that the trees would have to come down, but he couldn't afford it, and was putting it off for a year hoping that no branches would cause damage to the house, cars, or people in the meantime. In his view nothing else could be done.

I meanwhile started researching, and although it cost us a bit, I bought enough imidacloprid to do a proper drench at the right time in the autumn. I figured that saving the trees would save us at least as much on our electric bill for summer air conditioning as it would cost annually for enough insecticide drench to treat such large trees.

Results: Remarkable success. Trees in full leaf and beautiful, any branches that had a hint of green the previous year were fully recovered.

Now, imidacloprid is a Neonicotinoid insecticide. It is more and more considered harmful to pollinators if it is used in such a way that they can be affected -- overspray when they are present, high amounts systemically in the flowers that they're collecting from, etc.

For many years all the research on this that I saw was from obviously biased anti-Monsanto people doing obviously flawed studies, but about 3-5 years ago I started to see some real science indicating real problems for native pollinators when Neonicotinoids are used without regard to consequences.

So the obvious: After the tree has flowered, do the insecticide soil drench around the tree. It takes a few weeks for this to be carried up to the canopy, by which time there won't be anything left on the tree to pollinate.

Some states have banned consumer sale of Neonicotinoid insecticides, so it may not be an option if you have ash trees that aren'y yet heavily affected.

dmoelling said...

The insecticide "vaccination" program is being promoted in most NE states to establish seed trees for recovery after the rest of the ash are dead. I think most is via injection directly into the trunks.

I have about a dozen large hemlocks with one tall ornamental one out on the road. We've been treating that one only for adelgids for many years. It seems that the other benefit from even that small reduction in pest population.