The Emerald Ash Borer: Coming to an Ash Tree Near You

by Jerry Schneider

HARDWICK – Hear ye, hear ye, coming to an ash tree near you! According to the VT Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), has been confirmed recently in a tree in Marshfield. This means that Hardwick is now either within the “high-risk area” (a ten-mile radius from that tree) or in the “confirmed infested area” (within five miles of the beetle). 

Since it’s likely introduction in the early- to mid-1990s in Michigan (eggs or larvae hitching rides on cargo ships and airplanes, from its native Asia), the bug has reached far and wide, and now is here in our back yard. The website vtinvasives.org has a map of the infested areas, including confirmed infested area (red blotches) and an outer buffer area that includes high risk areas.

When the beetle eventually reaches Hardwick, any infected tree will die within three to five years. According to the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program (VUCFP), the EAB attacks all three species of ash in the state and has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America (bad news for manufacturers of baseball bats).

It would be good to start marking ash trees that pose a hazard, either in town or along roads. Once those trees become infected (there are signs – larval galleries and exit holes), they should be cut down. There are ways to cut and dispose of the wood so that we are not spreading beetle eggs or larvae. The vtinvasives.org site has a link and recommendations to slow the spread of EAB.

The VUCFP is reaching out to all municipalities within the most recently documented infested areas, and sharing resources. Individual landowners should be aware of the EAB and plan for it. The town is aware of it and has asked the Hardwick Conservation Commission to discuss the EAB at its April meeting. The commission will be looking at how to move forward with the issue.

[Editor’s note: Jerry Schneider is a member of the Hardwick Conservation Commission.]