Treevia – Ash vs Beetle

If you don’t know what an ash tree looks like, I suggest you get to know one before a voracious little beetle beats you to it.

There are five native species of ash trees in Ontario: white, black, green, blue and pumpkin (you can call it orange!).  Their branches and leaves are arranged opposite of one another and their compound leaves are made up of many small leaflets. They are beautiful and tough trees – their wood is strong yet flexible and ideal for baseball bats, canoe gunnels and paddles. Most notably, ash trees make up a large portion of both our urban and rural forests – in other words they are as common as dirt. That’s about to change.

Leaves of ash trees. Photo from http://eabguelph.com/2013/06/28/ash-tree-leaves/
Leaves of ash trees. Photo from http://eabguelph.com/2013/06/28/ash-tree-leaves/

Over the last decade, the Emerald Ash Borer, a shiny green beetle introduced to Ontario from Asia, has been killing all ash trees it encounters.  This past summer the bug was identified near Roseneath in Northumberland County, and it is only a matter of time before it spreads across the Lower Trent watershed region. There are treatments available to protect individual trees in urban areas, but there is no cure to save the thousands of ash trees in forests across the region.

Emerald Ash Borer beetle. Photo from http://www.emeraldashborercontrol.ca/gallery.htm
Emerald Ash Borer beetle. Photo from http://www.emeraldashborercontrol.ca/gallery.htm

To deal with the pending loss of ash trees, you can manage your property for a diversity of tree species in your own back yard or woodlot. Consider under-planting now with different species around ash trees that will eventually succumb to the beetle. Make sure to choose species that can tolerate some shade as they grow. A forest’s best defense against this and future pest invasions may be the diversity of tree species within it, which hopefully no one invasive pest or disease can wipeout entirely.

Lower Trent Conservation is now taking tree seedling orders for spring 2014. There are 23 species to choose from – place your order early to get the best selection! You can order on-line using our new order form http://orders.ltc.on.ca/treeform/tree_form.php , or just give Ewa a call at 613-394-3915 ext 252 to choose your favourite trees. For all the details please see our website: http://www.ltc.on.ca/stewardship/tssp/

For more information about the Emerald Ash Borer and how to prepare for its impacts please see http://www.npca.ca/wp-content/uploads/woodlot-management-for-eab.pdf

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