Infestation puts ash trees at risk

A picture of the invasive species.

A picture of the invasive species.

The emerald ash borer infestation that threatens to kill all ash trees has expanded into our area, and residents should be concerned.

A total of 38 towns now reporting issues with the emerald ash borer, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES).

The infestation had been centered in New Haven County in Connecticut, but continues to spread and additional detections are anticipated.

The emerald ash borer is a destructive insect that has been responsible for the death and decline of tens of millions of ash trees from the Rockies to the South as well as New England. Ash makes up from 4% to 15% of Connecticut’s forests and represents about 2% to 3% of the urban trees in many communities.

“Unfortunately,” said State Entomologist Kirby C. Stafford III, “we are now seeing a lot of dead and dying ash in New Haven County and more ash trees will die as a result of this expanding infestation.”

‘Imminent threat’

Rob Klee, state energy and environmental protection commissioner, said property owners should check their ash trees for damage.

“The spread of emerald ash borer within our state poses a severe and imminent threat to ash trees on both private and public property,” Klee said.

“It is critical for property owners to assess the condition of their ash trees and make decisions to treat trees with appropriate chemicals to try to save them or to remove trees that pose safety risks,” Klee said. “We also strongly encourage property owners to utilize only licensed and insured professionals to either treat or remove their ash trees.”

When emerald ash borer is found, municipalities and homeowners can assess their ash trees and plan for the impact of this beetle. High value trees and lightly infested trees can be treated with systemic insecticides to protect them against the emerald ash borer.

Untreated ash trees will be lost and can die within two to three years once infested. Ash trees quickly decline and become hazardous, requiring removal, depending upon their location and risk to people and property.

Quarantines

In Connecticut, a quarantine now regulates the movement of ash logs, ash materials, ash nursery stock, and hardwood firewood from within Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties to any area outside of those counties to help slow the spread of the beetle.

CAES plans to add the state’s other four counties to the existing ash quarantine.

Regulations also are in effect regulating the movement of firewood from out-of-state into Connecticut or within Connecticut.

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