A Great Big Pain in the Ash – Impact of the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) on Local Forests
The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive species originating from Asia. The bright green beetle was first discovered in North America in 2002. The EAB is having great impact on a national scale and significantly in Ottawa, ON and surrounding areas. Local forests contain a large population of ash trees and the arrival of the emerald ash borer has been devastating.
The female beetles lay their eggs in the crevices of ash tree bark. As the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the cambium layer which contains the xylem and phloem. These tissues are responsible for water and nutrient transport and with their destruction the damaged tree subsequently dies. Trees which house EAB often have D-shaped holes in their bark which were produced by emerging adult beetles. Keep your eyes open for this warning sign!
So what is the local plan of action? A Ministerial Order by the Federal Government restricts movement of wood out of the Ottawa-Gatineau area. Like other cities in Ontario, the City of Ottawa is currently in the process of cutting down thousands of city-owned ash trees and those on municipal land. Not only does the removal of each tree cost around $1000, but the ash wood is being taken to the Trail Road Waste Facility where it lies as logs or woodchips. A second line of defense undertaken by the city is to treat the infested trees with insecticide (TreeAzin). Only certain trees are deemed ‘worthy’ of this $400 treatment which needs to be repeated every two years to be effective. Not surprisingly, both approaches are being met with criticism by local residents. Individuals needing to cut down damaged ash trees on personal property are responsible to cover the hefty costs of treatment or removal and disposal.
The ash tree is valued greatly by indigenous peoples and is commonly utilized in various traditional aboriginal customs. In addition to medicinal uses, these trees provide wood which is often used to make canoes, baskets and stretching racks for hides. The death of ash trees would be a great environmental and cultural loss.
Distribution of the emerald ash borer most commonly occurs with the movement of infected wood. Help prevent further spread of these destructive insects. Wood should not be transported - burn it where you buy it.
Invasive Species Community Outreach Liaison