Arborist: Emerald Ash Borer Infestation Will Lead to End of Ash Tree World

Heather Green, a forester and arborist in Oak Lawn, predicts all of the green ash and white ash trees in the metro-Chicago area will be wiped out by the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer beetle.

Get ready for Ash-tree-mageddon.

If it hasn’t already struck on your block or in your neighborhood, it will soon. And it will be like Armageddon.

Take it from Village of Oak Lawn forester and arborist Heather Green.

She predicts all of your green ash and white ash trees will die as a result of the invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer. The metallic green beetle is no larger than a penny but packs a wallop the size of a Red Army.

In the case of the Emerald Ash Borer, Green’s findings are like those of experts elsewhere around the Midwest: Tiny beetle larvae deposited under tree bark feed on tree veins and prevent a supply of nutrients and water from being delivered to vital organs, thus leading to tree demise.

So, how should you prepare for the end of your ash tree world? What is your parkway or back yard going to look like in six months? Two years?

“They are here,” Green said of the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer in northern Illinois and the collar counties of metropolitan Chicago. Experts believe the native Asian beetle species first was brought to the United States in ash wood used to transport cargo on ships near the turn of the millennium.

Emerald Ash Borer: Prepare for the Worst

So what should you do?

“Well, it depends on where you live and what your community’s protocol is,” Green said. “If it is a tree on your property, you need to do some research and get educated on some of the options you have.

“There are options. Bottom line, the tree is going to die. No way to stop it. Now, what you can do—you can prolong that. You can defer it if you choose to do so. And some trees are worth that. If you have one really large, good-structured white ash strategically placed in your landscaping and it provides a lot of value to you, you can look into injecting.

“If the tree is not significantly infested, you do that on private property, depending on where you live. It’s going to cost you say, $200 or $300, to inject it and that may be for a year or two years. But, after that is up, you have to make a decision.

“Am I ready to inject again? So, you have to inject or start the process for removal. You could go 10 years. But at 10 years, your tree is still at risk of dying from the Emerald Ash Borers. So, you’ll need to inject again. Or you’ll need to remove and replace. As a homeowner, you’ll need to balance that out.”

How much money do you want to spend on a tree that is going to die?

“Exactly,” Green said. “If this tree was planted by someone significant to you or has some significance that way, or if this tree has an effective canopy that helps you with the shading and cooling of your house and is not in poor structure—it’s not going to fall apart—then it might be a good investment. But at the same time you’re injecting, you should be putting some money away for removing and replacing.”

Green said to think of injections as a method of medicating your tree. Insecticides are used as a stopgap measure to kill the Emerald Ash Borer larvae. But since the insecticides are injected inside the tree, they only kill existing larvae and they won’t harm the adult Emerald Ash Borer population.

The adult beetles feed on tree leaves until they are ready to lay new eggs. And new larvae will continue to eat away at trees in a revolving-door-like process, Green said. And, as long as there are ash seed sprouts and ash tree roots in the ground, thereby providing a food source, she said there will be Emerald Ash Borers.

Beetle Mania: Problem is Widespread

How prevalent is the EAB problem in the Chicago metro-area?

“It’s very prevalent,” Green said. “In some towns you go into, you can see trees that are dead or half-dead. I would imagine every ash tree in the Chicago area has some level of infestation.”

In Oak Lawn, one of the village’s hit the hardest, 114 parkway ash trees were removed in 2011 through a $30,000 federal grant program that also will allow the village to start replanting trees.

Green said plans call for the removal of another 490 trees in 2012, many in the 107th Street, Keating and Kilpatrick area of Oak Lawn. If all goes as planned, 1,000 more parkway ash trees will cut down in 2013 and ’14, bringing the grand total to about 1,600 lost trees in the village.

“That’s a huge feat, though,” Green said. “That’s assuming Mother Nature works with us and doesn’t give us storms to complicate things.”

To prepare for the loss of ash trees in yards and on private property, Green suggests homeowners start planting their own new trees now.

“Plant another tree over here that starts to grow—strategically, not just throw a tree in the ground, but a good tree for that space,” she said.

Green recommends checking the link to replacement trees on the Village of Oak Lawn’s website, the list of trees running the gamut from bur oak to sugar maple.

Scott Carlini October 12, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Thanks Tim for pointing people to "Real World" trials that were done 4 all Ash tree owners sakes. I spent money & time delivering info to every Ash owner in ten mile area. Most don't know they even have Ash till too late. That is why trees don't get treated till already heavily damaged. People need to know that once a tree is bug free it does not decline further like a disease, but sometimes does not show improvement first or second year, and might be misshapen once dead stuff is cut off. BEST NEWS is owners put off by Arborists high charge for treatment(costs them $4 per & they charge $10) can "Pour it" themselves and only pay $35 for Enuff Imidacloprid supply to last 2 years for most size trees. My trial during heavy Infestation of small public parkway trees, 98-120 yr old historic Jens Jensen park trees and two of Chicagolands oldest/largest 200+ yr old Green Ash has officially(Me) been successful so far using the cheapest "Double Dose" option of 75WSP. If Tim and I are wrong...Wait never mind, some of our most important statements about EAB are proven, and only poor uptake or improper application of right insecticides will kill your tree. "I told you so" does not bring back trees that could have been easily saved. And those incorrect town Arborists who replant with Maple while Verticillium Wilt spreads into newest parkway tree disaster. Then they wonder why uncaring residents don't water new trees against 2012 drought all because family wanted to choose different species.
Scott Carlini October 13, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Validation so good. EAB leaves in spring 2 mate, don't let back into tree early summer only to kill in late fall. Simple as that! Treated tree IS trap tree for Mother EAB. Savior is how Borer kills every tree, even very young. No EAB will be left but treated trees will be. Then your Ash will spread seeds. That is why arboretums sell Prairie plants now, to spread GOOD NATIVE seeds back into everybodies back yards. Euphoria is EVERY public tree I treated for last two years Full and alive with leaves till fall 4 $15 small 2 $35-4-200 yr olds. Another pride moment when Chicago proved that Tree-Age can kill EAB for a Three year stint = Cost $60. Next biggest result when untreated Ash in middle of treated City Ash still alive and well during heavy infestation. Now I dare an uninterested TOWN Arborist to tell me otherwise. After viewing over 1000 of Chicago's tree-age treated trees(First used against farm fish lice), and almost 100 privately treated trees, plus my own mix of small to largest Green, white, and one Black Ash(Blue still OK on it's own), this is not your Grandma's Elm disease. Treated trees are living accomplishments from SMARTER people than fools who transport firewood. And smarter than Japanese Auto wire harness suppliers that build products in China & pack assembled products into fresh Asian Ash wood containing live EAB to Detroit. Even smarter than towns who use Ash mulch cut under inch spread around other Ash trees in town! Obamalamadingdong I TOLD YOU SO, NOW GO!
Tim Leensvaart April 09, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Well I do have to say that there are no fixed costs for treating Emerald Ash Borer. Every treatment is carefully metered and applied based on the diameter of the trunk of the tree at 4.5 ft from soil level. Bigger trees require more insecticide so they will cost more. Also the most current research says not to use Imidacloprid (-the soil drench or soil injections) for trees larger than 25" in diameter because of poor distribution. Trunk injecting the same chemical only provided one season of effective control. The same studies say that only one season of coverage can be obtained from those treatments. TreeAge lasts effectively for two full seasons. The third year the test trees did receive damage even when using higher rates. There have been many articles about how Chicago is under treating their parkway Ash trees by spreading out the time between treatments. Blue Ash trees will also be infested along with our other Ash trees. They will probably last longer than the others, but WILL like all Ash be killed eventually if not treated. Every thing I said is based on university and government research.
Scott Carlini April 09, 2013 at 11:57 PM
Good to hear real world results quoted instead of rumors & guesses Tim. I would love to read those articles written about Chicago's program as I only have proof of the treated trees to go on. The Orange tagged ones were treated 4 years ago and will get Blue tagged when retreated this year. Most have survived to this point very well with minimal damage. The silver tagged trees done two years ago are not looking as good, and evidently were injected with less product. I have already been warning these people to treat tree themselves w/Imidacloprid for one year till City re-injects. Also, less injection holes means spotty coverage on big trees. Last year the City did not treat or re-treat any. If insecticide needs to fill the newest growth layer each year, I don't know how the Tree-age does this except for its long molecule string which does not break down so quickly unlike other products. I have been observing three untreated Blue Ash trees, and they have lasted three years longer than Green or White Ash so far with minimal damage. Like you said, they too will eventually succumb, and would be the easiest Ash to save w/insecticide. Their bark is one of the thickest of our native trees. If Arborists did not charge 75% over cost or $10 per DBH for the tree age, and $8 per DBH for Imidacloprid injections, many more owners would save their trees. It only costs Chicago $20 per tree, but like you said each sized tree gets an exact amount, so it could be less or more than that.
Scott Carlini April 10, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Yes Tim, the protocol for trees over 25" are to have a professional Arborist apply compared to owner "Pouring it" themselves. It used to be 15” before approved double dose. Arborist soil injects it with better equipment or trunk inject, and still last one year, but has better uptake. Biggest problem was as tree size got bigger, dose rate would have to also rise, and this was not being done, thus poor results. Tim, I know you Ignored all field tests from 04 because of outdated dose rates. Also, it takes 2 good uptake years to finally fill whole tree with Imidacloprid. 75% active ingredient sticks to organic matter(weeds or grass) much more than 22% stuff. Guidelines I have told large tree owners to follow 1st year is treat with tree-age if EAB damaged, otherwise soil inject Imidacloprid 4" or less @2.80 grams per DBH, once in Fall, then again in April, or once in April & again in May. Treating more than one tree per acre may go over total label amount allowed. Restriction for 1 Acre= 128”DBH total treatable tree inches or 8.5 oz total applied Imidacloprid 75%WSB-WP. It's 25.6 oz total applied for 2F or 22% stuff, and again 128”DBH total treatable inches per acre or 4-32"DBH trees. Telling people to use more insecticide than instructed will not kill tree, but EAB certainly will if nothing is done! I do not want people poisoning their communities drinking water either. It is each of our responsibility to read the label and not abuse insecticide. Thanks for the update Tim.


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