City treats 275 ash trees
By Olivia De Valk
STEVENS POINT – Last week, the Stevens Point Area Parks and Recreation Department wrapped up treating 275 ash trees for the invasive species, the Emerald Ash Borer.
Native to north-eastern Asia, the Emerald Ash Borer is a metallic-green beetle that measures around half an inch in length.
The immature Emerald Ash Borer feeds on the inner bark of ash trees. This disrupts the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients.
While ash trees in north-eastern Asia have developed defense mechanisms to protect against the Emerald Ash Borer, the ash trees in North America have not.
Ben Jurenec is the production lead at First Choice Tree Care, one of the companies the City contracts to help treat its ash trees.
Jurenec explained that the treatment, injections of emamectin benzoate, is best given to ash trees as a preventative measure and cannot bring a dead or dying ash tree back to life.
“While emamectin benzoate may look like blue Powerade, it’s actually an incredibly strong insecticide! This procedure is recommended once every two years to ensure good, strong growth,” Jurenec said.
Since its discovery near Detroit in 2002, the Emerald Ash Borer has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America.
The Emerald Ash Borer didn’t show up in Stevens Point until around 2017, but the City of Stevens Point has had an Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan in place since 2013.
Todd Ernster, Superintendent of Forestry and Landscape Operations, explained that one of the first things the City did was reduce its population of ash trees from 1300 to 550 by removing ash trees under 4” in diameter. The removed ash trees were replaced with other species of trees.
The 550 ash trees that are remaining average around 14 inches in diameter.
“It takes a long time for a tree to get to 14 inches in diameter. Once it reaches that size it starts providing the benefits we enjoy with trees,” Ernster said.
Ash trees don’t start dying off as soon as the beetle is detected in a neighborhood. Ernster said the massive die-off typically happens between the fifth and tenth year of the Emerald Ash Borer first being found.
Ernster sees Ash trees infected with the Borer all across the city.
“It looks like, you know, the tree got shot by a gun,” Ernster said.
A telltale sign of the Emerald Ash Borer’s presence are many small “D” shaped holes that mark where the beetle has bored into the tree.
If left untreated, ash trees on private property will be affected by the Borer. Ernster encourages homeowners to think about if their ash tree is worth saving, or if it would be better to replant.
For more information on the Emerald Ash Borer, including what to know when hiring a contractor, visit the city of Stevens Points website: https://stevenspoint.com/461/Emerald-Ash-Borer