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There’s not much hope for this young ash tree in Ottawa’s Lincoln-Douglas Park, said Bill Jones, arborist for the city of Ottawa. This tree showed multiple signs of emerald ash borer infestation, including weak leaf growth, especially on the crown (top); peeling bark; holes in the bark from ash borers or woodpeckers; and new sprouts around the base of the trunk. This tree is too far gone to treat, Jones said. NewsTribune photos/Chris Yucus
A close-up of an ash tree in Ottawa shows S-shaped tracks left under the bark by larvae of the emerald ash borer beetle. This cuts off water and nutrients in the tree, causing dieback and eventual death.
If your ash tree is showing signs of sickness, it might be too late to save it.
As emerald ash borers spread through Illinois, more people are noticing sick trees on their property.
Experts say the time to take action is while trees are healthy. It might take four to five years for a tree to die after infestation occurs.
“By focusing treatment efforts on ash trees that are not showing signs and symptoms of emerald ash borer infestation ... there will be a better chance of successfully preserving those trees,” according to Illinois Department of Agriculture.
This also is the approach by the cities of Ottawa and La Salle. Trees showing signs of disease are not worth the effort or cost. But priorities for homeowners might be different, said Bill Jones, arborist for the city of Ottawa.
“If you’ve got only one or two ash trees, it won’t cost you as much to try to save them,” he said.
Which ones to treat, which ones to remove However, odds of success for homeowners aren’t any different than for cities.
The city of Ottawa hired a service to inventory ash trees for possible treatment or removal. City arborist Bill Jones has been using this inventory on the roughly 700 ash trees on city property the past two years.
“They gave us a recommendation to treat, remove or let Mother Nature take its course,” Jones said.
Jones has treated 117, he said.
“The ideal time to treat them is the month of May,” Jones said. “That’s when the emerald ash borers are active.”
Jones sprays Mallet-brand systemic treatment into soil around trunks. It has shown signs of keeping healthy trees healthy but it’s not 100 percent, he said.
“There are some trees I’ve sprayed that are starting to show decline,” Jones said. “It could take five years to see effects after the trees have been infected. Hopefully it will work but it could be too late now. If you start seeing signs of it, it’s probably too late to treat it. You need to start treating when it looks healthy and fine. From what we’ve understood, once you start treating, you have to treat it every year.”
In 2012, La Salle injected insecticide implants into ash trees. Now the city relies on a hired arborist to choose appropriate treatment formulas, said Jeff Bumgarner, public works director.
“The formula changes from year to year and it works if you catch it early enough,” he said.
La Salle will treat ash trees in the next two to three weeks on city property.
“We’re going to treat several small ones right in front of city hall,” Bumgarner said.
Treatment will be directed to smaller ashes showing vigor and no signs of ash borer, he said. A larger ash tree at city hall showing signs of stress will be removed, he said.
“It keeps the emerald ash borer from spreading into some of the smaller trees as well,” Bumgarner said.
Large ashes showing signs of infestation could break off a limb and damage something.
“With the dead limbs, we don’t want them hanging over in our parks,” Bumgarner said.
Widespread problem, continuing to spread The beetles are well established throughout La Salle County, said Randy Timmons, Illinois Department of Natural Resources forester.
“There is a good population around and we do have an infestation,” he said. “Actually, the ash borers are pretty much throughout Starved Rock. I’m getting calls from all over La Salle County.”
Not all sick-looking ash trees are infested with emerald ash borers. The drought of 2012 harmed many trees, and other species of ash borers and insects can damage trees, Timmons said.
Emerald ash borer larvae feed on wood beneath the bark.
Late last month a helicopter sprayed parts of Starved Rock State Park with a biological insecticide designed to kill adult beetles that eat leaves of sprayed trees.
Emerald ash borers were discovered in the United States in 2002 near Detroit, accidentally transported here from Asia. They were discovered in Illinois in 2006 and have killed tens of millions of ash trees across the United States.
Advice from USDA
Systemic insecticide treatments of ash trees can be a very useful in response to, or in preparation for, emerald ash borer infestation, along with removal of known infested trees. Residents are urged to consult certified arborists to assess ash trees for treatment. The Illinois Department of Agriculture does not and will not endorse specific treatment methods, insecticides, companies or applicators.
Specialists advise that you should begin treating ash trees once emerald ash borers have been confirmed within 15 miles. Insect experts agree that it is not necessary to begin treating your ash tree before such time.
Homeowners should consider treating ash trees of the highest value, removing those showing signs of infestation and planting different species, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Posted: Sunday, July 6, 2014
Article comment by:
Research from Illinois's own University of Chicago suggests that natural predators such as woodpeckers do a better job of eliminating the bugs. There would also be no risk of accidental poisoning (humans or other plants/animals). Let's do our best to keep LaSalle-Peru as toxin free as possible.