Invasive beetle continues to cause damage to local ash trees

DELMAR, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive bug, has been making its way east for years, and New York State is one of its current locations.

The Ash Borer is small as a penny, but it’s done extensive damage to trees overtime. A local expert said humans have contributed to the bugs moving from one location to another.

The bug is an Asian beetle that originated from solid wood packaging materials from China or another Asian country. It was first discovered in the United States in 2002 in Michigan. Since, it has slowly made its way throughout other states.

It eventually made its way to New York, a process that took up to eight years.

“Our average spread rate in the United States is somewhere between 25 and 40 miles a year, so that means that humans have played a very large role in the movement of this insect,” Jerry Carlson with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation said.

The beetle is usually seen on ash trees located near the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar.

“The infestation that we have now more or less originated in the Kingston area,” Carlson said.

The white marks seen on the bark of the trees is a process known as blonding. The more tearing away it does, the faster the tree will die.

“The insect eats the ploem, and when it eats the ploem, it effectively robs the tree of its opportunity to move water up from the roots,” Carlson said.

Carlson said most trees die within two to four years of becoming infested. Other sings of infection include the browning of leaves and yellowing.

While the beetles have shown no dangerous impact on human health, it can pose a risk to those who live near an ash tree.

“The trees are next to your house, and the tree will fall on your house after it dies,” Carlson explained. “That’s a very serious concern in most of our urban areas.”

Typically spread through moving firewood, several organizations are making an effort to put a stop to it. Carlson said infested areas are quarantined, which means materials like firewood may not be moved out of infested areas.

Those who live close to an ash tree have the option of trying different insecticides, but that can depend on effectiveness and price.

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