A message for property owners with ash trees: Get them their shots.
Inoculating the trees with an insecticide has been effective in slowing the devastation of the emerald ash borer, the invasive beetle that continues its spread throughout the Buffalo area, a forester from the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Friday.
In fact, that’s the approach the state is taking to mitigate the loss of millions of ash trees across New York.
“We can’t eradicate the insect,” said Patrick Marren, a forester with the DEC. “Instead we’re moving toward a strategy called Slow Ash Mortality – SLAM – which is an attempt to slow the spread, to allow communities, property owners time to make plans and respond – spread costs over years, over time.”
Marren on Friday was in Williamsville, the latest community to detect the ash borer.
Village officials used the beetle’s discovery earlier this month in Glen Park as a reminder to residents about its destruction. They encouraged property owners to consider spending the money – about $100 a treatment depending on the size of the tree – to protect some of their more valuable ash trees, which help provide neighborhoods with a beautiful canopy.
The shots typically last from one to three years and increase the chances that the trees will survive an infestation, officials said. Williamsville two years ago inoculated 78 of the roughly 100 ash trees on municipal property, said Trustee Daniel O. Delano.
“Call an arborist,” said Deputy Mayor Christopher J. Duquin. “If you have not had anyone in yet it’s a possibility that your tree can already be damaged by the ash borer, at which point it could have to come down.”
The emerald ash borer, a beetle indigenous to Asia, was first discovered in southeastern Michigan in 2002 and has since spread to 25 states, killing tens of millions of ash trees along the way, Marren said.
The dark metallic green beetle lays eggs on ash bark. The eggs hatch into larvae, which feed below the bark and create S-shaped tunnels that disrupt the transport of water and nutrients, eventually killing the tree.
“They are active all year around, even despite our cold winters they can be active on those warmer days,” Marren said. “The tree itself, the bark, can provide that insulation for the borer.”
The ash borer has been detected in 23 counties in New York, including Chautauqua, Genesee, Niagara and Erie counties. That includes the towns of Amherst, Clarence, Tonawanda, Lancaster, Cheektowaga, Elma, West Seneca, Orchard Park, Hamburg and Evans.
While New York is expected to lose a “significant” number of its ash trees – there are an estimated 900 million across the state – research continues on other chemicals and methods that may provide better, long-term protection to keep ash trees on the landscape at some level, Marren said.
“Not at quite the levels we have now,” he said, “but maybe we won’t lose the species.”