University of Vermont

New Resources Provide Tips for Managing Emerald Ash Borer

Adult Emerald ash borer feeds on foliage.

Burlington--Emerald ash borer (EAB), a destructive wood-boring beetle from Asia, was first discovered in northern Orange County in Vermont earlier this year, putting the state's 160 million ash trees at risk. The ash trees in yards and lining town greens are as susceptible as those in the woods.

Since that first sighting, infested trees were identified in other parts of Orange County as well as Washington and Caledonia Counties. Once infested, an ash tree is likely to die within five years. 

To help homeowners protect their ash trees, the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program (VT UCF), a partnership between University of Vermont (UVM) Extension and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, has compiled a collection of resources at www.VTinvasives.org/eab. The site also includes information about this pest, the current infested area and how to report a possible sighting.

"We want homeowners to know they have options," said Danielle Fitzko, VT UCF program manager. "Trees can be protected from EAB, but we want to help people make informed decisions and to do it responsibly."

Homeowners in the infested area who have a healthy, high-value ash tree that they wish to protect have the option to seek injection pesticide treatment from a professional arborist who has an active pesticide license from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. These treatments are effective at protecting ash trees from EAB but are a significant commitment because they need to be reapplied for the life of the tree.

While soil treatments marketed to homeowners are available, these contain neonicotinoids, which are harmful to pollinators, and thus are not recommended. The injection method used by professionals will reduce the risk to non-target species.

Homeowners who forgo pesticide treatments have other options to realize value from their infested ash trees. These include turning the dying tree into firewood, sawn boards or garden mulch. In all cases to prevent further spread, the dead ash trees cannot leave the infested area.

"Moving wood from place to place can transport the insect or its larvae, speeding its spread," Meredith Whitney, UVM Extension forest pest education coordinator, explained. "Firewood that hasn't been heat treated should be bought or harvested as close as possible to where it will be burned. Let's spread the word, not the bug!"