Emerald Ash Borer is Here to Stay
March 27, 2017
Over the past two years, concerned citizens have contacted us and asked about why a tree on their property looks the way it does.
When they send in photos, 99% of the time our response is more or less this: "That orange, shaggy appearance is the result of emerald ash borers eating your ash tree. It is dead now or will be dead soon."
Over the past five years that ALCS has conducted timber sales and land purchases across southcentral into northcentral Pennsylvania, we have witnessed a steady and relentless advancement of the invasive emerald ash borer. The evidence cannot be missed, as there is nothing else like it. And when you see the little bright green beetle, you cannot miss it.
At one time, the highly visible purple traps hanging in trees along roadways were meant to catch these invasive insects, and help state foresters track their possible routes inland. Well, that is passe now, as the emerald ash borer appears to be everywhere but the most remote niches of the state.
We are experimenting with sawing the dead remains of ash trees into boards, which can have an appealing "wormy" appearance, and which could theoretically make up in some small way for the complete loss of this once abundant and very valuable part of Pennsylvania's native forest. Ash lumber is used to make baseball bats, and is highly prized for its straight grain.
Going forward, the many, many remaining dead ash trees across the landscape can and will eventually serve as den trees to multiple species, like flying squirrels, fishers, woodpeckers, and wood ducks. But that is cold consolation, as gypsy moth and sudden oak death disease have been killing red oaks and chestnut oaks, especially, across central and northcentral Pennsylvania. In a few years it appears that our state will have a sudden growth in the amount of dead mature trees, which will serve as abundant denning habitat, but which also mark some of the great, sad changes shaping, and diminishing, our native forest.
Ash trees in yards and in public spaces can be saved with injections of insecticide, but the treatment is expensive and is needed every two years. Some foresters are certified to apply the chemicals that specialize in this, and they can help you retain a favorite big ash tree in front of your home or business, or in a downtown area. But ash trees living in the forest proper cannot be saved. And so far we are witnessing 100% mortality from the beetle. As you can see from our photos, the ash borer leaves no part of the tree undamaged.