As you may or may not know, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an ash-tree-killing-insect, accidentally imported from Asia in 2002, is slowly working its way in our direction with a hunger for our ash trees. It no longer appears to be a question of if EAB will arrive, but when. EAB has been detected in extreme southern Maine and extreme northern Maine, but more recently a single EAB was found in the Portland area.
I think it’s important to prepare people mentally for the loss of many shade trees once EAB does arrive in our area. None among us are old enough to remember the devastation brought on by the American Chestnut Blight of the early 1900s, but many people are old enough to remember the devastation the Dutch Elm Disease brought to the state in the mid to late 1960s.
I was just a young boy at the time, but I still remember losing the very tall and very huge elm tree at the end of our driveway. The stump eventually rotted, and nothing but a small mound of soil remains, as a reminder, to this day.
When EAB arrives, our ash trees will be under attack and many, if not most, will die. Yes, it is possible to inject individual trees with insecticide to prolong, or maybe even save their lives, and we, and others are gearing up to do just that, but it is not practical or economically feasible to protect even a small fraction of our ash trees, especially those in the forest.
This coming spring will be a good time to survey your property, identify any ash trees, and start thinking about which ones you can, or cannot bear to lose, so you can start planning your strategy. It makes sense to remove low value ash trees before they die and become a safety hazard. Higher value ash may be able to be saved with preemptive and ongoing insecticide applications.
If you need help identifying your ash trees, contact a competent arborist (or forester, if it’s a woodlot) for help. You may be surprised how many ash trees we have.
The Author is General Manager of Naples-based Q-Team Tree Service and is a Licensed Arborist. He can be contacted at 207-693-3831 or at RobertFogg@Q-Team.com.