Emerald ash borer invasion reaches Wilton

The Emerald Ash Borer is a tiny metallic green beetle that has invaded the Northeast. Scientists at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station report that it was found in Connecticut in 2012. Assistant Tree Wardens Nick Lee and Lars Cherichetti confirm that the beetle is now in Wilton.

This discovery means that the ash tree will quite likely be a thing of the past in the entire region. Once the EAB is present, most ash trees die within 4-5 years. The beetle has killed ash trees from Michigan to Massachusetts. All species of ashes that grow in North American are believed susceptible to attack. The loss will equal the loss from the chestnut blight and the Dutch elm disease combined.

Paul Young, Wilton’s tree warden, estimates that the ash represents 20% of the trees in Wilton. The Tree Committee is concerned that the Department of Public Works will not be able to keep up with the removal of dead and dying trees along Wilton roads now that the EAB is active here.

The first symptom that an ash tree is infested with EAB is often thinning and dieback in the tree’s upper canopy. A definite sign of the EAB is the presence of a D-shaped exit hole in the bark. This hole is left by the emerging adult, as it chews its way out of the tree.  

Exit holes can be difficult to see, but there are other indicators that are more prominent.  When ash trees are seriously infested, woodpeckers will likely be stripping the outer bark off in patches and pecking holes in the bark to find EAB grubs to feed on. This is often the giveaway that an ash tree is infested.

If residents have a specimen ash tree in their yard, proactive treatment can be performed to prolong its life and possibly fight off the EAB. The Tree Committee recommends that a licensed arborist be contacted to individually consult on the tree.  Licensed arborists in Wilton can be found at this website: http://www.ctpa.org/find-arborist/?cn-s=06897&cn-cat

The Tree Committee will be preparing an estimate of number of ash trees that will need to be removed along local roads over the next few years, so that the Department of Public Works will be prepared for this extra task