Since 2002, we have watched the progressive spread of the invasive insect, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), from the first discovery of the beetle in Michigan, to the recent discovery of the insect in New Jersey, in the spring of 2014. Today, EAB is present throughout the Gracie & Harrigan service area.
Recently, the New Jersey EAB situation took a dangerous turn as the first known injury by an EAB-infested tree occured at Monmouth Battlefield State Park. Ash trees are known to become abnormally brittle shortly after their death. EAB infestations begin in the top of the tree, and ash trees have normally been infested for 3 years before symptoms become noticeable to people on the ground. So, when a chainsaw sends vibrations up the tree as it is being cut down, it is not uncommon for limbs and branches to break off and fall down upon or near the cutter.
We urge clients with white ash trees within striking distance of their homes, utility lines, outbuildings, playgrounds, etc. to address the ash trees before they begin showing symptoms. (Ash trees out in the woodlot that are not within striking distance of commonly used hiking trails could be left for woodpecker and other wildlife habitat.)
It is estimated that 95 to >99% mortality will occur among our native white ash population. There is no known treatment within the forest, however, individual specimen trees in yards and along roadways can be treated with an insecticide that is watered into the roots of the tree on a yearly or biannual basis by a homeowner or a tree service, or through bark or root injection by a qualified professional. Now is the time to begin treatment of specimen trees.
What can be done in your woodlot now? For areas of the forest with a high concentration of ash trees, consideration should be given toward how you want your forest to be post-EAB. Plans should begin for invasive species control, to prevent unwanted proliferation of invasives following EAB mortality. Planting and protecting native tree seedlings will help to establish new tree growth, which will help to transition the forest following ash mortality.