Farewell to the ash trees
Many in the Eastern U.S. are all too familiar with the ermerald ash borer (EAB), a small beetle with a big penchant for killing ash trees. It’s an invasive pest, thought to have hitched a ride on packing crates from Asia. It’s only been here about a dozen years, and already has spread to numerous states, wiping out virtually every ash tree as it moves through an area. Forestry officials rank it with Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight, such is its destructiveness.
How far will it spread, and how fast? And what should you do about it? The answers to the first questions aren’t clear, but probably, I’m told, it will eventually spread through nearly all of the U.S. east of the Rockies.
Given that, I suggest avoiding ash trees altogether. There are just too many other nice trees to choose from, so there’s no point planting something that might be dead in 10-20 years. That seems like a long time, but a nice tree is just getting started at 20 years! What a shame to have to start over!
The second thing I recommend is to plant young trees in your yard to replace existing ash trees. You don’t need to remove the ash tree if it’s still healthy, just get another young tree started, so that when the near-inevitable happens, you’ve already got a decent-size tree in place. Ash is one of the most widely planted shade trees in America, so this applies to many, many homeowners.
There are no truly good treatment options for EAB. There are a few chemicals that provide a reasonable degree of control, but they’re expensive and need to be applied every year, forever. One might choose to invest in a high value tree this way, but generally speaking, why fight it?
Most importantly, looking ahead, plant something besides an ash tree. Learn more at emeraldashborer.info.
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