Kiss Your Ash Goodbye

As Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) spreads and establishes throughout the US, cities and home owners are being hit with large bills for tree removal. In Indiana, Fort Wayne is trying to cope with the large scale problem. EAB was first detected in Fort Wayne in 2007. The current drought year has brought on a faster than anticipated decline in ash trees. Many of the dead and dying trees must be removed because they are a hazard for falling on people.

The city typically loses about 500 trees per year and has crews to take down those trees. However, the number of dead trees is expected to increase by about 1000 ash trees per year through 2013. The city can only handle about 1000 trees per year and must contract about $400,000 to remove additional trees. Replacing all of the ash trees in the city would cost over $5 million, money the city does not have. Over 1000 of the most prominent trees are scheduled for treatment with insecticide to try to protect them. The cost to protect 90 trees in a single park could be $5000 per year.

There is no easy solution to problems caused by invasive species such as EAB. Prevention is the only effective strategy. This requires strict compliance to guidelines for shipping wood packing materials. As is the case with many invasive species, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

EAB larval galleries in infested ash tree

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Environment, Invasive Species, Pest Management, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Kiss Your Ash Goodbye

  1. Clayton Miller says:

    While I fully support prevention and treatment before death of the tree, why would replacement even be considered? The sheer cost of replacing such a vast number of trees is far too much for a municipality to consider. Plant new trees which are not susceptible to the EAB or other invasive pests. Allow nature to take its course.

    • jjneallwi says:

      Replacement generally means “remove the ash and replace it with a species that is not susceptible”.

      Replacement depends on the size of the tree. If the trees are relatively small they can be removed now for less cost. This is what West Lafayette is doing over a 5 year period. If small trees grow another 5 years and then they die, they will be more expensive to remove.

      If a tree falls on a house or a car you still have most of the cost of removing the tree plus the added cost of replacing the care or repairing the house. If the tree falls on a person, the costs can escalate drastically (don’t go there). There are cost calculators that are important in deciding whether to treat or remove trees.

  2. Kira Reisert says:

    My father is a Master Gardener and also a Master Naturalist who has told me several things about the EAB. After a short time all topics seem to die down and seem less important as other topics pop up with more urgency. To me, this topic is still very alive yet I have not heard any new information about it. The last I knew there were still Ash trees alive but more and more quarantined areas in Indiana. Have the statistics changed as far as the estimated number of beetles, number of quarantined areas, and the population of Ash trees in Indiana?

    • jjneal says:

      EAB marches onward. The entire state of Indiana is considered “infested” at this point and they will be concentrating efforts at stopping the spread to our South in Kentucky and Tennessee. We will have an EAB/invasive species day in ENTM 105.

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