Letter: Take precautions if you have ash trees

Regarding the article in the June 19 edition of the Morris Daily Herald on Emerald Ash Borers, which indicated the EABs are coming, I have to disagree: we have them in Morris right now. We have found multiple trees infected with them on the west side of town at this point, and some are so damaged that cutting them down is the only solution.

If you have not protected your trees on your property with the recommended pesticide, start now. If you see woodpecker damage, it isn’t too late, but you’ll probably have to call a tree professional to get a soil drench or injection to save your trees. This runs about $15 per inch of diameter, mostly because our state’s EPA is behind in approving other treatments.

If you can’t afford that, you have two choices:

1. “Girdle” the tree by cutting two groves around the circumference of the tree at waist height. This will kill the tree, but it also starves the EABs.

2. Have the tree cut down, as low to the ground as possible.

The pictures of the EABs make them look big – in reality, they are around 1/8 of an inch in width, and 5/8 inches long. They are hard to see – what you can see is the woodpecker damage that the trees get.

How you can see if your tree has them:

1. The canopy (the top of the tree) is withered, thinner than normal or gone.

2. Look for wood pecker damage (1-inch pieces of bark missing, lighter material showing). If you see any of these were you can see the wood under the bark, look for a serpentine pattern in the wood.

Unlike most borer insects which reproduce by laying eggs once, the EAB female can make multiple times, and deposit eggs in multiple trees. That is what makes them so damaging.

Morris has an unusually heavy population of ash trees. I have one green ash and four white ashes in my yard.  We’ve been protecting them for 2 years now with pesticides that you place around the trunk and that get washed in, and so far, it is working. 

The time to wait and see if they are coming is over – the EAB is in your yard right now if you have ash trees. If you want to save your beautiful ash trees, the time to take action is overdue.

George Wilhelmsen