Ash tree owners urged to vaccinate

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BRATTLEBORO — Now is the time to treat your ash tree with a pesticide to protect it from the emerald ash borer.

According to a fact sheet provided by Don Adams, Brattleboro Town Tree Warden, products that contain emamectin benzoate and azadirachtin are recommended. Emamectin benzoate, which is generally more effective for large ash trees, last longer and controls EAB for at least two years. Azadirachtin is effective for two years when EAB populations are low but must be injected yearly when EAB populations are high.

"Infestation has been verified 20 miles away," wrote Adams in an email to the Reformer. "Now is the time to vaccinate any ash trees you want to save, because by the time you find the pretty green insect on your tree, or notice the damage, it will be too late. Infested trees die from the top of the crown down; by the time you can see from the ground that you have damage, the tree will be too far gone to save."

The cost of a pesticide application depends on the size of the tree. To protect a 19-inch tree, one that you can get your arms around, expect to pay between $190 and $285.

An arborist certified to apply pesticides can provide an accurate estimate.

EAB larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves water and sugars up and down the trunk. It was first discovered in North America in the Detroit area in 2002, and over the past 16 years it has decimated ash populations. EAB has been detected in all of the New England states. Ash trees comprise approximately 5 percent of Vermont forests and are also a very common and important urban tree. EAB threatens white ash, green ash and black ash in Vermont and could have significant ecological, cultural, and economic impacts.

In July 2018, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service alerted state officials that an emerald ash borer beetle was captured on a purple detection trap in the town of Stamford. This location is within five miles of another recent EAB detection in the town of North Adams, Mass. This invasive insect was first discovered in Vermont in February 2018, and has also been confirmed in Orange, Washington, and Caledonia counties.

As part of an ongoing effort to detect EAB, the USDA has already deployed purple detection traps at 609 locations throughout Vermont.

Although it may be hard to see, EAB is likely to be present in other locations within 10 miles of known infestations. In southwestern Vermont, this includes all of Stamford and Readsboro, as well as parts of Pownal, Woodford, Bennington, Searsburg, Whitingham, and Wilmington.

Moving any infested material, especially ash firewood, logs, and pruning debris, can quickly expand the infestation, so it is critical Vermonters follow the "slow-the-spread" recommendations, available at vtinvasives.org/land/emerald-ash-borer. One important recommendation is to only buy local firewood.

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Emamectin benzoate and imidacloprid are injected directly into the base of the tree trunk. They are systemic insecticides, transported within the vascular system of the tree from the roots and trunk to the branches and leaves. This reduces hazards such as drift of pesticide to non-target sites and applicator exposure that can be associated with spraying trees with broad-spectrum insecticides, and has less impact on beneficial insects and other non-target organisms.

According to the fact sheet provided by Adams, it can cost up to $1,000 to have a medium-sized tree removed and the stump ground up.

It is recommended that infested wood be dealt with promptly, on site: burned, chipped, or buried, as the chance of spreading the infestation is great. Infested ash firewood should not be moved.

Brattleboro's Tree Advisory Board, in conjunction with Vermont's Department of Urban and Community Forestry have located and noted ash trees on public property and within the town's right of way for the downtown and some of the urban sections of Brattleboro. Many of the more important ash trees were treated last spring to protect them from the emerald ash borer.

More public ash trees will be vaccinated this coming spring.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program is partnering with the Young Writers Project to raise awareness about emerald ash borer and its impact on Vermont forests and communities. Youth are encouraged to submit an original work of 750 words as a persuasive essay, piece of prose or poetry that aligns with the Invasives-Challenge prompts.

Submissions are due Friday, March 15. Winners will receive a cash prize and are invited to read their work at the annual Vermont Arbor Day Conference. For more information, visit youngwritersproject.org/node/26361.

The cost of tree removal is variable depending on accessibility, obstacles, tree condition, and other characteristics. To determine how much it might cost to have a dead or dying ash tree removed, visit www.urbantreealliance.org/eab-costs. Search for a Certified Arborist at http://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist/findanarborist.

To contact Adam, email Dan-Adams@comcast.net.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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