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ARTICLE: Emerald Ash Borer!

August 27, 2013

Almost a year ago I wrote an article about a year and submitted it the Annex Gleaner but it was never published, until now! And as a result some of stats my be out of date, nonetheless the message rings true. As everyone and their mothers know, I’m in love with trees and I am very mindful of the urban forest I live in. There are threats to trees everyday but one that has my particular attention is the Emerald Ash Borer. I hope you enjoy the article and the video below courtesy of L.E.A.F, one of the organizations I volunteer for and interviewed for the article.

A little bug causes some big problems for Toronto’s ash trees
Protecting Annex Ash Trees against the Emerald Ash Borer

By: Whitney French

It’s just a bug. A jewel-green insect that looks pretty harmless. Except it isn’t. The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) does just as the name suggests, it burrows itself into healthy ash trees nearby, chokes them and kills them. By the thousands.

The City of Toronto estimates that by 2017 over 860,000 ash trees in Toronto will die from the EAB. The damage is already underway. Since first being reported in the city in 2002, the EAB has infected a devastating number of tree canopy in the North York, Scarborough and East York regions. And the Emerald Ash Borer is heading westward.

”The Annex is clear, for now” assures Kristjan Vitols, Supervisor with Urban Forestry for the City of Toronto. However many parks that once relished in the shade of white, green and black ash trees —like Bickford and Christie Pits— may be at risk. Fortunately none of these ash trees have been reported infected but without preventative measures, it’s only a matter of time.

Mature beetles do damage but it’s the offspring that slaughter the trees. EAB larvae feed under the bark, carve deep zigzag markings deep within the bark, eats away at the arteries, disrupts the flow of water and nutrients and strangles the tree until it dies slowly.

The Annex is a prized area for tree canopy, with a population of 85 trees per acre. It is significantly more luscious than the average neighbour in the city, which ranges from 8-10 trees per acre, according to the Toronto Urban Forest Department. This is an “opportunity for people to save trees that they own” and treat ash trees “pre-infestation,” says Melissa Williams L.E.A.F. (Local Enrichment and Appreciation of Forests) Manager. L.E.A.F. is a non-profit who are committed to healthy urban forestry. She believes insecticide is “a personal decision.” Residences with ash trees on their property should weights out all of their options.

TreeAzin is an insecticide that can help ash trees recover from EAB infection made from Need tree seed extract. But there’s a few catches: inoculation must take place between June, July or August; the city hasn’t released wide-spread treatment despite announcing that infestation is city-wide plus for TreeAzin to be effective, ash trees must be ideal candidates for treatment.

If your tree is too far-gone, forget about it. But there must be enough larvae build up for the injection to work. Structural problems? The ash tree may have to be removed altogether.

If that weren’t enough, the Emerald Ash Borer not only kills ash trees but the damage they cause has the potential to harm humans too. “It becomes an issue of public safety. You can’t just leave dead trees lying around,” Kristjan reasons. Without adequate removal, dead branches can fall and injure pedestrians, especially older, larger branches.

The EAB infestation has become an “ecological catastrophe” affecting most provinces and states. Cities like Toronto are suffering most because ash trees were the tree-of-choice in the 70s and 80s. Ash trees are urban trees: resilient to salt in winter, adaptable to heavily polluted areas and producing substantial amounts of shade from just one tree. All in all, ash trees make up 26% – 28% of Toronto’s tree canopy and in some areas line both sides of the road.

“We didn’t know about the EAB back then,” Kristjan admits. The Emerald Ash Borer is not native to North America, but an Asian beetle originating from China, Japan, Russian and Taiwan. “It probably came here by infested nursery stock or lumber,” he hypothesizes. Whatever the reason, the EAB are here and they’re getting very comfortable in our home and native land. The mild fall and winter has made the Emerald Ash Borer resilient and stronger, affecting trees at a much more rapid rate this year.

“It’s about biodiversity,” he explains, which is why some areas are hit harder by the EAB invasion than others. In June, L.E.A.F. conducted an EAB training session for Annex Residents Association, highlighting why mixing the tree canopy is important.  “We encourage people to plant new trees even if [they are] unaffected,” Melissa suggests. Tree stewardship is key to preserve the canopy in the Annex community.

If you believe that your ash tree is infected by the EAB, please contact an arborist through the Yellow Pages or through the L.E.A.F.’s EAB program (yourleaf.org). If your ash tree is dying because of EAB and you’re seeking treatment see bioforest.ca for TreeAzin info. If your ash tree is dying and you wish to remove it, contact professional tree removal companies found in the Yellow Pages.

April O’Neil over and out. For more articles by me check out:

Learning About Labyrinths
Super Fun Short Film

And here are my super established and sophisticated note-taking skills.

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Emerald Ash Borer notes in pen, purple, blue and red marker

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And be sure to scope out this video below too!

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