Photos of trees in varying stages of health are not a new thing for the Horticulture Diagnostic Lab to receive. Homeowners often contact us wanting a diagnosis of their sick or “dying” tree. I recently responded to an email from a homeowner from the north fork of Long Island, inquiring about borer holes on three deciduous trees, and I requested he send photos. When the photos arrived, the injury to the trees was unlike anything I had seen before; extensive woodpecker activity called “blonding” (see photo below).
The trees have furrowed bark, opposite branching and a somewhat weeping habit, which is characteristic of ash trees, and although I wasn’t able to see the emergence holes from the photos, my heart sank. This had to be the workings of an insect called the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), which up until now had not been found out in Suffolk County. Confirmation of the tree species as ash and identification of EAB followed just a few days later by our local Cornell Entomologist Dan Gilrein. EAB has arrived.
With no known sightings of this insect in any other parts of Suffolk or Nassau counties, one wonders how did this insect found its way all the way out to the north eastern part of Suffolk County with no stops in between? Ash trees do not make up our native forests here on Long Island, but varying species of ash (genus Fraxinus), have been planted as street trees in many locations and planted on homeowner properties as well. The movement of infested firewood, much like other invasive insects such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle, or diseases such as Oak Wilt, is the most likely answer. Human activities provide the transportation for these hitchhikers.
In the community where the insect was found, many of the homes are second homes or vacation homes, so perhaps firewood was brought in from another location where EAB is well established. I’m writing this to hopefully make more people aware that it is illegal to move firewood more than 50 miles from its source and that by law untreated firewood cannot be brought in to New York State. For more information about the specific regulations pertaining to moving firewood you can click on the following link to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website; https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/44008.html. Don’t contribute to the growing spread of destructive invasive pests. Protect our trees!
At the time of this writing it isn’t known the extent of the EAB infestation here in Suffolk County, but as always our Horticulture Diagnostic lab is here to help! Emerald Ash Borer can also attack a related species of tree called the fringetree which is a very ornamental flowering tree. For specifics on this highly destructive insect pests please feel free to visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservations website for their EAB fact sheet here; https://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.cce.cornell.edu/attachments/34998/EAB_DEC_early_detection_brocure.pdf?1546628049.
This beetle is difficult to detect before extensive damage has been done, so if there are valued ash trees on your property you should likely consider protecting them with the appropriate pesticide. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservations press release regarding the finding of the Emerald Ash Borer can be found here; http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/115854.html.
If you suspect you may have EAB on your property or are having a problem with you trees, feel free to give us a call. You can find our contact information here; http://ccesuffolk.org/gardening/horticulture-diagnostic-labs.
Article by Alice Raimondo, CCE Suffolk Horticulture Consultant