In Ontario, there has been a drastic decline in ash trees since around 2017. What is the cause of this, you might ask? The Emerald Ash Borer is to blame for killing millions of ash trees all over Canada. Our team at Five Star Tree Services want to discuss everything there is to know about ash trees and the Emerald Ash Borer.
What is an Emerald Ash Borer?
This is an insect that is originally from China, and it likes to eat and kill ash trees. They do this by feeding on the tree under the bark, which ends up stopping the tree from getting water and nutrients. No ash tree is safe, as the Emerald Ash Borer likes all ash tree species, except Mountain Ash. After infestation, the tree will not survive and will die after 2-3 years. If there are Emerald Ash beetles, all ash trees in the area will be dead within 8-10 years. The adult beetles are able to fly, making it easy for them to spread locally and almost impossible to exterminate them.
Ash Tree Importance
Ash trees are not only beautiful, but they are also known for being lightweight and strong. People and wildlife both benefit from these trees. As they provide birds with food and a place to nest. Some wood products used with ash trees include hockey sticks, furniture, guitars, baseball bats, and gardening tools. In Ontario, there are 5 different kinds of ash trees grown, white (which is the most common), blue, red, black, and pumpkin. White ash is the strongest, which is why it is used for most wood products. Black ash is also used for furniture if a grainy look is needed but it is not as strong as white ash. In southwest Ontario, about 90% of the forests were ash trees, until the Ash Borer arrived in Canada. Luckily, these trees are able to grow quickly and thrive in built-up environments. Making them a popular choice for urban tree planting.
How the Emerald Ash Borer got to Canada
We have to go back to 2002, when the pest was first discovered storing away on wooden shipping pallets in Michigan and Southwestern Ontario. It wasn’t until 2007/2008, when the first infestation was reported in Toronto, specifically in the York Region. When the Emerald Ash Borer is in Asia, they don’t think of it as a pest because it only likes to attack sick or weak trees. But in North America, no matter the health of any ash tree, it’s not safe from this devastating pest. They have spread far and wide across the country, hitching rides on vehicles to help them make the long journey.
Ash Tree Future in Canada
The hard, sad, and terrible truth is that it is very possible that ash trees won’t have a future. In York Region alone, over the next 10 years, it has been estimated that most of the 2,800,000 mature ash trees are going to get infested and die. Urban forests consist of about 700,000 ash trees and in rural woodlands, about 2,100,000 are found. Most experts can conclude that the only way to get rid of the Emerald Ash Borer is when all the ash trees are gone, then they won’t have anything left to feed on. To preserve the ash tree species from extinction, select seeds from mature ash trees are being collected and stored safely for future planting. When it is safe to say the Emerald Ash Borer has extinguished itself, and is no longer a threat, steps will be made to repopulate the ash tree. Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure when this will happen.
Prevention and Treatment for Ash Trees
Due to this epidemic, biologists have developed a specific spray that helps prevent the death of the trees, but it must be applied to the tree in the very early stages of infestation. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has said they anticipate the continued spread of the Emerald Ash Borer across the country, but with this spray, can be slowed down. Determining when to use the spray is tricky since you need to be very aware of exactly when an Emerald Ash borer infestation happens. When using the spray, it needs to be applied a few times. Unfortunately, it is fairly expensive and there isn’t actually a guarantee that it will be effective enough to save the tree, only slow down the beetle.
How Five Star Tree Services Can Help
The inevitable demise of the ash tree is a very sad reality. But it is one we are forced to face together. It’s important for communities to make management plans and vigilantly monitor ash trees, so that these insects can be caught as quickly as possible. Our team at Five Star Tree Services is here to help! If you suspect your tree has been infested, we can help you with our tree care services in Toronto! Give us a call at (416) 990-3355!