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County must remove more than 1800 diseased ash trees

In this article with the Montgomery County Sentinel, Brian Leatherman, district manager of Davey's Washington D.C. office, and Chris Klimas, Mid-Atlantic residential and commercial operations manager, talk about the different options when it comes to managing EAB. 

Posted: Feb. 12, 2016 

By Nadia Palacios

Montgomery County park officials expect to remove about 1,800 trees due to an insect infestation in ash trees.

A horticulturist for Montgomery County parks, Patrick Harwood, said this number would likely grow.

“This situation will evolve as the infestation spreads, so we may move upward to 2,000 to 2,500 this year if we can receive funding for it,” Harwood said.

The insect, the Emerald Ash Borer, goes into the tree, where it lays its eggs, which become larvae. The larvae feed on the cambium layer of the tree, which lies just below the bark. This prevents the distribution of water and nutrients to the tree.

“You can do treatments if you catch it early enough. You can do preventative treatments if you decide to keep the tree,” said Brian Leatherman, district manager for Davey Tree.

Chris Klimas, Mid-Atlantic residential and commercial operations manager of the Davey Tree Expert Co., said treating or removing a tree is an economic decision and that treatment is a commitment of time, energy and resources.

“We have many customers that are doing that, such as Baltimore city,” Klimas said.

The cost for treating and retreating the trees depends on several factors, according to Klimas, which include the number of trees, the accessibility to the infested population and the size of each tree.

“The larger the density of trees in a community, (it) reduces the costs (of treatment),” Klimas said.

Two-thirds of the cost for treatment comes from the chemical itself, which is very expensive and has one major manufacturer, Klimas said.

According to Harwood, the treatment for these trees is unsustainable. Treatment involves drilling a hole into the tree and injecting a chemical called ArborMectin and water into the vascular system, Leatherman said. The tree then “pulls up” the product. The treatment will last for two years. After that, the tree will have to be re-treated.

Leatherman said signs of infestation include the heavy presence of woodpeckers, chewed-up leaves in the summer, a D-shaped hole about an eighth of an inch in diameter and an unusually high number of sprouts.

Klimas said infested trees die rapidly, becoming brittle. At that point, the infested tree would have to be removed within six months.

The Emerald Ash Borer, originally from China, was brought to the states, specifically to Michigan, with wood material imported from there, said Klimas. It then arrived in Maryland with plant material coming from Michigan.

“The insects just find a way of hitchhiking cars and trucks,” Klimas said.

Harwood said the Emerald Ash Borers are very good distance fliers. They were originally thought to only fly a few miles.

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