2013 last year to treat for Emerald Ash Borer

2013-06-26: Edited article courtesy of Ward 3 Councillor Dave Gittings

If you have not started treatment for the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), this is the last year that you can try to save your tree. Treatment must be performed before the end of August.  While Oakville has the most aggressive EAB management program in Canada, we are about to see the full effect of the devastation that is decimating ash trees across North America.

Last week, Council approved the town’s 2013 Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Management Program highlighting the town’s ongoing efforts to control EAB infestations and to educate the public about treatment options.  Town staff have prepared an excellent presentation including information on the devastating effects of the EAB.

Treatment and removal of municipal ash trees included in this year’s program will begin this month. Healthy public ash trees on streets and in parks across Oakville will be injected with TreeAzin® to protect them against EAB. Approximately 2,500 ash trees will receive the treatment from the town’s service provider before the end of August. This will be the third treatment for many of the trees since Oakville first launched its EAB management strategy in 2008. Of the over 5,000 municipal trees treated since the treatment program began in 2008, 98 per cent are still alive and in good condition.

In total, the town will be treating approximately 5,700 municipal ash trees over the next 10 years. Currently 40 per cent receive treatment in odd years, while the remaining 60 per cent receive treatment in even years. TreeAzin® is a natural and safe bio-insecticide derived from the seeds of the neem tree, and provides up to two years of protection against EAB before it must be reapplied.

The balance of the municipal ash tree canopy on public roads and parks do not qualify for treatment due to heavy infestation or size, and are becoming structurally unsound. The town will begin removing high risk trees from streets and parks this month before they become public safety hazards and to curb the spread of EAB. Removing just one 20-centimetre DBH (diameter at breast height) nine-metre tall tree eradicates over 570 EAB from the population, helping to safeguard those trees being treated.

“The devastation by EAB is unprecedented. It is on Time magazine’s top ten list of evil animals,” said John McNeil, Manager of Forestry Services. “With 80 per cent of Oakville’s ash trees located on private property, it’s important for residents to make a decision now about the fate of their ash trees. We’re encouraging residents to treat their trees or have them removed and replaced.”

EAB is infesting ash trees across Canada and the United States and is responsible for killing tens of millions of ash since its discovery in 2002. This year is believed to be the tipping point for the EAB population in the GTA. Urban forestry professionals warn that 2013 may be the last year an effective treatment program can begin. The town recommends that residents have a certified arborist assess their ash tree(s) to determine the best option.

If you require assistance in identifying an ash tree and have access to an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, you can download LEAF SNAP, a free app developed by Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. This free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.

A number of residents ask about green triangular shaped ‘boxes’ that have recently appeared in our area. These are Emerald Ash Borer ‘traps’. 100 of these traps have been placed in trees around Oakville. Their purpose is not to kill Emerald Ash borers. They are covered in a substance that mimics the smell of ash trees and smell like breakfast to the EAB with the purpose of allowing staff to monitor the level of infestation by geographic area.
Have a close look at ash trees that have thinning leaf cover or look stressed. Chances are that you will see ‘D’ shaped holes in the trunk. This is the exit hole of the beetle, and a sure sign that the Emerald Ash Borer is killing the tree. The EAB larvae bore tunnels under the bark to feed on inner bark tissue. The tunnels cut the flow of nutrients and water to leaves.
Treatment of TreeAzin®is performed every other year. A series of holes are drilled in to the base of the trunk and vials of the insecticide are drawn in to the tree. The cost of treatment varies based on the diameter of the tree.  There are numerous licenced tree care companies performing this service in our area.