The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB, Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire), a non-native invasive wood-boring beetle, is now in Vermont. This insect has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees across the United States and Canada since it was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 (1). It is among the most damaging invasive species that have become established in North American forests. A healthy tree will decline and die four to six years after EAB initially attacks it. Research has shown that 99% of ash trees in a stand that are healthy when EAB is first detected will be dead six years later. All species of ash trees are susceptible to EAB attack, including those most common on the Vermont landscape: White Ash (Fraxinus americana), Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra).
EAB was first found in Vermont in 2018 and the list of municipalities with confirmed EAB infestations continues to grow (2).
If you have ash trees in your landscaping or woodlot, you are facing a choice:
- Treat healthy ash trees to protect them against EAB attack.
- Remove ash trees, especially those that could pose a hazard as they die and decay.
- Do nothing with the expectation that any untreated ash trees will be attacked and killed by EAB. EAB-killed ash trees can be removed, but typically at a higher cost than healthy, living trees, given the structural instability of dead ash.
Treat healthy ash trees now. While it’s likely that almost all of the ash trees in Vermont will be killed by the EAB, it’s also true that almost any individual, currently healthy tree can be saved. Our approach and application methodology are based on the latest scientific research and targets individual trees, maximizing the benefits of treatment while minimizing potential non-target impacts. We offer a systemic, stem-injected insecticide treatment (emamectin benzoate) that protects individual trees against EAB attack for at least two years (4). We generally recommend treatment for healthy ash trees in garden and urban settings because it extends their life and function, and it is far more cost-effective than tree removal.
In a woodlot, treating a small proportion (<1%) of ash trees in a stand can slow the population growth of EAB and the decline of un-treated ash trees (3). Treating at least some of the ash also preserves the ecological functions of the species and the genetic diversity that may one day give rise to EAB-resistant ash (4).
Remove ash trees. Our crew has the expertise and equipment to remove and responsibly handle healthy and EAB-infested ash trees in woodlots, near homes, and in urban areas. We offer complete removal services including cleanup and stump grinding.
We are committed to “slowing the spread” of EAB while also maximizing the utility of woody material our removals generate (2). Ash wood can be left at your site as mulch and logs cut to firewood length. We also routinely haul ash wood chips to be used locally as farm mulch, biofuel, and compost. In wooded settings, we often leave ash trees as decaying snags and logs that provide ecosystem services including wildlife habitat, carbon storage, and nutrient and water cycling (4).
Where appropriate, we can also provide you with recommendations and services to plant new, EAB-resistant trees to replace ash trees.
Do nothing. We recognize that sometimes the best management is to do nothing with a clear understanding of the eventual outcomes. In this case, a decision to not treat or remove ash trees is a decision to allow them to die of EAB attack and decay on the stump. In this process, a tree is still valuable as wildlife habitat, carbon storage, and as part of water and nutrient cycles that support the woodlots that we love. However, this is not a viable option for ash trees that are growing within reach of homes, roads and other infrastructure. It is also not a good option for ash trees that are aesthetically important.
We can help you make this decision by assessing the overall current health of your ash trees and discussing your management priorities. Our staff of ISA Certified Arborists and ecologists has the knowledge and experience to help you make the best choice for your trees, your woodlot, and your community.
Now is the time to plan for the inevitable arrival of Emerald Ash Borer in your woods. Click on the link below or call our office (802-316-1545) to request a free consultation with one of our professional arborists.Request Service
- Emerald Ash Borer Network: http://www.emeraldashborer.info/
- Vermont Invasives: Emerald Ash Borer. https://vtinvasives.org/land/emerald-ash-borer-vermont
- McCullough, D.G. 2020. Challenges, tactics and integrated management of emerald ash borer in North America. Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research, Volume 93, Issue 2, April 2020, Pages 197–211, https://doi.org/10.1093/forestry/cpz049
- D’Amato, T. et al. 2020. Ten recommendations for managing ash in the face of emerald ash borer and climate change. Forest Stewards Guild. https://forestadaptation.org/sites/default/files/Ten-Recommendations-for-Managing-Ash.pdf
- Mercader, R.J. et al. 2015. Evaluation of the potential use of a systemic insecticide and girdled trees in area wide management of the emerald ash borer. Forest Ecology and Management 350; pages 70-80. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S037811271500225X