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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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July 26, 2022

Emerald Ash Borer Update

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a foreign and invasive insect that emerged in the USA in 2002, most likely brought overseas from shipping material. Since its initial discovery on US soil, the emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees throughout the country. These pests were discovered here in the St. Louis area in May of 2015. 

In the 1950’s and 60s, ash trees were the popular choice for replacing elms that had died from Dutch elm disease. After several decades they reestablished the urban canopy. But when the emerald ash borer was introduced, the trees had no natural defenses against the invader. While most borer species feed on weak or diseased trees, the emerald ash borer feeds on all ash tree species regardless of their health, making their impact swift and severe on ash populations. We are now aware that they will decimate our precious remaining ash trees rapidly if we do not intervene. 

Emerald Ash Borer: Just the Facts 

  1. EABs (Emerald Ash Borer) hatch out of dead or dying trees in early spring and feed on the leaves before laying eggs under the bark. The larvae hatch and bore into the tree, devouring and destroying the vascular system.
  2. Our native ash species have no defenses against this pest.
  3. If ash trees are not treated, they will die from infestation.
  4. Proper treatment will save your tree if the tree has not yet been heavily infested or damaged.
  5. There are at least three systemic treatments that are effective. They must be administered routinely.
  6. If EABs have been detected in your area, the treatments can be applied preventatively to a healthy tree, or as a control response to newly declining ash trees.
  7. Ash trees killed by EAB become very brittle and will need to be removed to avoid major hazards.
  8. Proper removal of a dead or dying tree is imperative to keep the beetles from hatching in the dead wood and continuing their introduction to and destruction of nearby trees.

What Can We Do About Our Remaining Ash Trees? 

  • Talk with your neighbors about any outbreaks of EAB. Early detection in your area will give you the best chance to save your trees.
  • Determine the value of your ash trees and consider the benefit of investing in treatment.
  • There is a lot of misinformation being spread about how to handle this epidemic. Check with reputable sources like the Missouri Botanical Garden, the MU (University of Missouri) Extension, and a certified arborist.
  • Consult your arborist to create an ongoing health plan for your trees, including treatments, removals, and replanting.

Metropolitan Forestry initially uses the least invasive treatment (soil injections). When populations increase, we take a more aggressive and targeted trunk injection treatment. Please contact us if you have any questions or if you would like an inspection or proposal.  

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Our goal is to provide you with the best possible service. If you are not satisfied with any treatment or completed job, we will resolve the situation to your satisfaction. We want to do our utmost to ensure your trees and shrubs are always 'green and growing'.