Over the last two decades, ash trees have been under attack in the U.S. due to the invasive insect known as the emerald ash borer. Trees that are exposed to this insect find themselves struggling to maintain life — most eventually succumbing to it.
Thankfully, if you are proactive, there are steps you can take to protect your ash tree from this unwelcome pest.
The Dangers of Emerald Ash Borers
The Emerald Ash Borer invades an ash tree when a female lays its eggs on the outside of its trunk. As the larvae hatch, they bury themselves inside the tree. That’s right – they grow up within the Ash tree’s trunk digging their way through squiggly-shaped tunnels. They create these tunnels up and down the sides of the tree, interfering with the flow of much-needed nutrients to the upper portions of the tree.
Fully grown emerald ash borers find their way out of the tree by boring tiny holes (hence their name) through the bark. Not only does this leave the tree susceptible to other creatures entering the tree or for woodpeckers to peck away, but the top of the tree starves for nutrients, growing sicker and sicker because it can’t receive them.
The result? The ash tree will usually reach the end of its lifespan in about a year or two after the infestation. Older trees or those with minimal infestation may last about 3 to 4 years.
Signs of the Emerald Ash Borer
While a professional arborist should be the one to confirm you are, in fact, dealing with an emerald ash borer, there are a few signs you can look out for. These include:
- Crown dieback. Due to the lack of nutrients reaching the upper areas of the tree, it will begin to die from the tips of its branches inward toward the trunk.
- Epicormic sprouting. This is when new growth appears along main limbs or even in the lower trunk. This usually happens in this instance due to the crown dying.
- Bark splitting. The damage underneath the bark often causes vertical splits in the bark.
- Woodpecker feeding. Woodpeckers feed on emerald ash borers. And, as their population within the trunk increases, they are an easy catch.
- D-shaped exit holes. As the adults leave the tree (usually in spring), they will leave the tree with small d-shaped exit holes.
Protecting Your Tree from Emerald Ash Borer
When it comes to treating your ash tree for emerald ash borers, you are going to want to do so before there is a big problem. Sadly, once they are given the freedom to wreak havoc on the inside of a tree, there isn’t much that can be done to save it. By this time, it may be too late.
The best thing you can do to protect your ash trees from this unwanted invasive pest is to invest in preventative treatment. Trunk injections by a skilled arborist work to provide pesticides into the vascular tissue of the tree – and that gives it protection from the emerald ash borer.
Keep in mind that this trunk injection needs to be repeated regularly in order to protect the tree.
If you’d like to learn more about treating ash trees infested or vulnerable to the emerald ash borer, then contact Ricks Plant Health Care at 610-840-2655.