WYNANTSKILL, N.Y. — An invasive beetle blamed for devastating millions of ash trees throughout the country has made its way to Rensslaer County.
The emerald ash borer was found in the hamlet of Wyantskill in the town of North Greenbush by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in November, according to David Chinery, horticulturists with the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
"We don't know exactly how many trees might be infested," Chinery said Tuesday. "It's tricky. A lot of these trees are only about 30 feet tall, but if there isn't a lot of initial damage, you don't see it easily."
Chinery said the damage to ash trees he saw indicated the infestation was about two or three years old.
Homeowners should take note of the types of trees on their property, Chinery said. If they have ash trees, they should look for "blonding," were woodpeckers and other birds flaked pieces of bark off.
Adult beetles leave D-shaped exit holes in outer bark of a tree's branches and trunk. Adults are roughly three-eighths to five-eighths long with metallic green wing covers and a copper red or purple abdomen. They may be seen from late May through early September, but are most common in June and July. Signs of infection include tree canopy dieback, yellowing, and browning of leaves.
"The challenge can become, do you want to save that tree," Chinery said.
Insecticides must be sprayed on the ground around the tree during the growing season, he said. Alternatively, an arborist can give a tree injections of insecticide, which can protect a tree up to three or four years.
The metallic-green insect can kill a healthy ash tree within three to four years, according to scientists, and is responsible for destroying over 50 million ash trees since its arrival to the country.
Native to Asia, the beetle was first discovered in North America in 2002, after being found in Michigan. Environmental officials suspect the species slipped through customs on an international shipment.
Since then, the emerald ash borer has spread to 25 states and two Canadian provinces, according to the United States Forest Service. It was first discovered in New York in 2009. A single bug was found in Stephentown in 2013.
In 2012, the bug was found in a purple sticky trap in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.
Vermont is the only state in the northeast that does not have a confirmed infestation.
For more information, contact Cornell
Cooperative Extension at 518-272-4210 or visit www.ccerensselaer.org; the state's Department of Environmental Conservation site at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7253.html; or the U.S. Forest Service's site at www.emeraldashborer.info.