The Ash Tree Conundrum: Kill or Treat and Wait for a Bio-predator

Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive Asian beetle from China, Japan, Russia and Korea. All varieties of North American ash trees will die experts say. Therefore, the recommendation is to remove and replace. The sooner ash trees are removed and replaced the better so as to give new trees time to get established and leaf out.

By Susu Jeffrey  March 6, 2020

Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive Asian beetle from China, Japan, Russia and Korea. All varieties of North American ash trees will die experts say. Therefore, the recommendation is to remove and replace. The sooner ash trees are removed and replaced the better so as to give new trees time to get established and leaf out.

EAB “With no natural predator”

The other side of the remove and replace program is that ash trees will not be able to develop immunity naturally. Of course, if we only have 12-years to contain climate catastrophe that negates the time required for ash tree evolution.

EABs are beautiful iridescent green beetles about one-third of an inch long. They feed off ash leaves and then bore into the bark to lay their eggs. The eggs develop into larvae which destroy veins in the inner bark that transport water and nutrients to the whole tree.

Behold the parasitoid wasps recently imported from Asia! One of them, the Spathius galinae wasp has been loosed in a few trials, none so far in Minnesota. This promising biocontrol agent finds EAB larvae by smell, drills through bark to deposit a clutch of eggs whose larvae emerge to eat EAB larvae.

It is too early to know if this Asian parasite wasp can withstand Minnesota winters or if this “solution” would snowball into a series run away disasters. Nevertheless, the threat of losing our canopy of one-billion Minnesota ash trees encourages continued treatment until government and home owners run out of treatment money.

The ash tree crash comes at a time when the movement to plant six trillion trees worldwide to exchange carbon for oxygen and stave off, or at least mitigate, global warming.

Insect Apocalypse

The most common way to control EAB is to drench the soil around the tree with diluted insecticide. Ash trees absorb the insecticide through their roots, killing the beetles as they feed on the tissues of the trunk laced with insecticide. The insecticides permeate the whole tree, not just trunk tissue where EAB feeds but sap and leaves too, food for other wildlife.

Internal inoculation treatments into the tree trunk are more expensive and more effective and may have less effect on other insects and on the water. However, inoculation leaves drilling wounds.

Bark spraying has inconsistent results like soil drenching. Spraying insecticides can result in accidentally treating downwind plants.

The problems with ash tree treatment:

1) You have to repeatedly treat ash trees every 2-3 years, it’s expensive and because of that expense at some point the treatments stop.

2) 140 insects feed off ash trees. 100 of those insects are generalists and feed off other trees. 40 of those insects feed exclusively off ash trees.

Ash tree insecticide treatment kills ALL insects—insect apocalypse, pollinators and all.

The insecticide drenching ash tree treatment moves throughout the tree—roots, trunk, branches, leaves. The insecticide poison also leaches into the ground water.

It is unknown whether EAB insecticides have been tested in drinking water, in local streams with fish, frogs, in rivers and lakes where people swim and swallow water. We don’t know how much EAB insecticides affect ground animals. In November 2019, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported that 56% of our state waters are “impaired.”

Meanwhile, it is illegal in the city of Minneapolis to allow a diseased ash tree to stand and there has been a 30-percent decline in the state’s bird population. The main culprit for the avian reduction is habitat loss.

Susu Jeffrey is a Minneapolis-based environmental commentator and activist.

Subscribe to RiseUpTimes.org   
Support independent media.  Please  donate today.  Thank you!  

Truth is not fake news.  Justice is not fake news.   We don’t have to tell you what dangerous times we face.

We need your help to bring you timely articles and information about so many important current issues in these Rise Up Times. Please donate today and share articles widely.

The contents of Rise Up Times do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor. Articles are chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Rise Up Times republishes articles from a number of other mostly independent news sources as well as original articles and stories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: