County Cuts Down Number of Ash Trees to Prevent Emerald Ash Borer Spread

The Emerald Ash Borer is not a new concern. In fact, Onondaga County has been working on a management strategy for three to four years. They are currently cutting down ash trees in Oneida Shores Park that have become infested. Our Iris St. Meran spoke to a researcher about how the little beetles can have such a major impact.

BREWERTON, N.Y. -- Crews are at Oneida Shores Park cutting down ash trees. The Emerald Ash Borer, or EAB, is spreading to more locations across the county.

"It's a little green metallic beetle that's about a half-inch long," said SUNY ESF PhD Candidate Michael Jones.

You might wonder how something so small could kill thousands of trees. Jones has been studying this invasive species from East Asia.

"What we work on primarily in the lab is looking at aspects of the biological control program in the northeast," Jones said.

He says an adult female beetle can lay 80 to 100 eggs and hundreds of females can lay eggs on one tree.

"You can produce thousands and thousands of beetles in one tree, the larvae,” Jones added. “All that feeding of the larvae is eventually what we call girdling, and the feeding basically disrupts the transportation of nutrients and water from being transported from the leaves and down to the roots, and the tree starves to death."

Jones said you can save the tree if the beetles are caught early enough, but he adds they are very hard to detect. Onondaga County Soil and Water has been working on management strategy for three to four years. They are cutting down 1,700 ash trees that put campers and patrons in danger and just along the edges which is a preventative measure.

"If you remove the host material, the beetles can't establish there," Jones said.

EAB is so invasive that if you have an ash tree on your property, Jones said it's likely infested. At ESF, they were removing the bark from sample tree limbs and found larvae underneath.

A D-shaped hole where adult beetles crawl out of is one sign there's an infestation. Other symptoms include woodpecker feedings and bark splits. The severity of the damage will determine if that tree can be saved or not.

If you're wondering if you have ash trees on your property, there are resources that can help you identify them. Visit http://www.emeraldashborer.info or http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7253.html.

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