Scientists try to limit emerald ash borers' spread

In this article from the Milford Daily News, Adam Cervin, district manger of the Davey Company's Hartney Greymont office in Needham, tells readers why the emerald ash borer is so detrimental to the health of ash trees.

Posted: May 26, 2015

By Gerry Tuoti 

Some description

A tiny beetle is kicking ash and taking names across the nation.

Admitting they cannot eliminate an invasive species of beetle, state environmental scientists are working to limit the damage the insects leave behind.

The emerald ash borer, a metallic green beetle native to Asia, is leaving dead ash trees in its wake as it spreads across the country. In Massachusetts, it was first detected in 2012 in Berkshire County. It was then found the following year in North Andover and was detected last year in Boston’s Arnold Arboretum.

“It is likely that we will continue to find them in new parts of the state in the next few years,” said Jennifer Forman-Orth, an environmental biologist with the state Department of Agricultural Resources. “The national map shows they’re all over New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire. We’re pretty much surrounded.”

The beetles were first detected in the United States in 2002 in Michigan, likely arriving in wooden shipping pallets or crates. They’re now present in 24 states.

“It has spread pretty fast,” Forman-Orth said.

In their larval stage, emerald ash borers tunnel into ash trees, leaving a series of distinctive serpentine-shaped markings, or galleries on tree trunks. When they reach the adult stage, the beetles bore their way out, leaving a small D-shaped hole.

“They’re a very serious threat to ash trees in particular,” said arborist Adam Cervin, who manages the Needham office of Hartney Greymont, a division of the Davey Tree Expert Co.

Emerald ash borers, he said, damage ash trees’ vascular systems, disrupting the flow of nutrients.

“It can’t support foliage on its limbs and starts to thin out,” he said. “Then some of the top limbs start dying. You might see some sprouting of smaller limbs lower on the tree as a response to the stress. Another big sign is you might see woodpeckers feeding on the insects themselves.”

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