Be Prepared For Emerald Ash Borers in Bucks County

Emerald Ash Borer in Bucks County“Be Prepared” has been the Boy Scout motto for the last 108 years.

But the scouts of 1907 weren’t thinking about the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect species that has been killing Bucks County trees for the last few years.

Fortunately, Peter Benz Landscaping has experience with dealing with the Emerald Ash Borer in Bucks County, which is why we were recently able to respond to a significant EAB infestation at the Ockanickon Boy Scout Reservation near Pipersville, Pennsylvania.

For this project, Peter Benz — an ISA certified arborist –worked with Frank Carroll, a forester and district chairman of the Boy Scouts’ Washington Crossing Council.

Together, we evaluated roughly 400 ash trees in the most critical areas of the camp –places where the scouts tend to gather — and then marked the trees for either removal or treatment.

In deciding whether to treat or remove the trees, we considered their health, their size, their shade value, and the cost of removal vs. the cost of treatment.  Here’s what we found:

  • The infestation was pronounced enough that most of the trees – more than 250 of them – will have to be removed, a process that should begin this fall and continue over the next few years as funding and manpower allow.
  • Another 142 trees will receive treatment. Thirty-four of them are considered “high value.” We treated those using trunk injections of the pesticide emamectin benzoate for two year control of the Emerald Ash Borer.
  • The remaining 108 trees are considered “important” and were treated by basal trunk spraying of the insecticide dinotefuron. We plan to return to treat these trees next year with soil injections of imidaclopri, another type of insecticide.

In deciding which treatments to use, we looked at the size of the trees, the time of year for treatment, and our expectations of control.

Emerald Ash Borers Are Destructive For Bucks County

The Emerald Ash Borer is a type of beetle native to Russia, China, Japan and Korea that attacks only ash trees. As adults, they’re a metallic green color and grow to about half an inch long.

These insects arrived in the United States from Asia in the 1990s, possibly as stowaways in a shipment of wood packing material.

Since their arrival, the EAB infestations have been found in 24 states as well as the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the first EAB infestation was reported near Detroit in 2002. The insects have made their way east since then, killing tens of millions of trees in the Chicago area, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland and now Pennsylvania.

The Forest Service has called the EAB “the most destructive forest insect introduced into North America in recent history.”

The infestation is large enough that 14 states – including Pennsylvania – are under a federal quarantine forbidding the transportation of firewood in order to keep EAB from spreading.

In Bucks County, the Emerald Ash Borer problem is significant because the ash accounts for a fifth (20%) of all  trees in the county.

How EAB Infestation Works

An Emerald Ash Borer infestation begins when an adult insect lays eggs in an ash tree. When the eggs hatch, the EAB larvae begin to eat the xylem – otherwise known as growth rings — found on the inside of the tree.

As those larvae grow and lay eggs of their own, their offspring continue to eat through the xylem. This disrupts the tissue of the tree that transports water and nutrients, causing the tree to slowly die.

Symptoms of an EAB infestation include:

  • Look for dead branches throughout the canopy of the tree, starting at the top. You might see thin and discolored leaves due to malnourishment. The bark may also start to split in a vertical pattern.
  • An infested tree might start to grow new leaves and branches at the base of the tree or on the trunk, often just below where the larvae are feeding.
  • Woodpeckers eat EAB larvae. Look for strips of bark that have been pulled from the tree.
  • When adult EABs emerge from beneath the bark of a tree, they create a D-shaped hole.

It can take up to three years for signs of decline to appear, and by that point, as much as 30 percent of your tree may need to be removed. Without treatment, an EAB infestation will kill your tree, but it can be saved with the right level of care.

If you’re worried about the Emerald Ash Borer in Bucks County, contact Peter Benz Landscaping. We’ll evaluate your property and tell you which trees can be saved and which ones need to come down. You may not have 400 trees to contend with, but losing even one to these pests is one too many.


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