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The Emerald Ash Borer: Is Chester County too late to save its ash trees?

In this article from the Chester County Press, Chris Miller, district manager of Davey's King of Prussia office, talks about the spread of EAB and what homeowners should be doing to battle the invasive insect. 

Posted: May 13, 2015 

By Richard Gaw 

Some description

For the past 15 years, Chris Miller has served as the manager for The Davey Tree Expert Company in King of Prussia. As an arborist, he has treated and preserved trees of nearly every variety, and has brought back trees that have been on the brink of death and restored them to full health, from the Main Line to Chester County and beyond.

One recent morning, Miller spoke on a cell phone from the Valley Forge National Park. The tone of his voice was layered with both matter-of-fact realities and the timbre of fair warning, reflecting the serious nature of the topic being discussed.

He spoke about the forecasted local arrival of the emerald ash borer [EAB], a half-inch-long beetle whose outer shell is a rich, metallic green. Since it first came to the United States in 2001-- on a shipment of ash wood from China to Detroit -- the EAB has been responsible for killing more than 40 million ash trees in 21 states and two Canadian provinces.

The adult EAB typically emerges between April and July, depositing eggs in bark crevices. The eggs hatch and the larvae bore into the tree to feed just below the bark surface. The larval feeding results in the tree being girdled, preventing the movement of nutrients and water between the roots and the tree crown. The infestation usually kills ash trees in three to four years after being attacked.

Despite efforts to control the population, the EAB invasion has continued eastward. The invasive insect was first found in Pennsylvania in 2007, and in the last eight years, it has infected ash trees in 56 of 67 counties. Chester and Lancaster counties are two of the remaining seven counties in Pennsylvania where EAB has not yet been detected, but it could just be a matter of time, Miller warned.

"My guess is that it is here and we have not yet realized it is here," he said. "I suspect that it will be discovered this year. Based on the life cycle of the insect and research, we've seen its ability to spread everywhere and not be stopped."

Miller then delivered the blow that many in our area are fearing the most.

"There is no way to avoid it," he said. "If we have the same conversation a year from now, we would see severe damage in all five counties in the Philadelphia metropolitan region. If you have an ash tree on your residential property and it is untreated, the tree will die. There is no doubt in my mind. And it's not just trees in backyards. That means all of the trees in the forest will succumb to the insect."

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