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Go Green: Emerald Ash Borer update

Noreen Riordan admires the beauty of a healthy Ash tree, but this spring a casual look around reveals their numbers are rapidly declining.
Noreen Riordan admires the beauty of a healthy Ash tree, but this spring a casual look around reveals their numbers are rapidly declining.

"You'll start to see dead trees and thinning trees, and it's really everywhere if you just know where to look," said Riordan, who is the Co-Owner of Summit Tree and Landscape.

The Emerald Ash Borer is to blame.  Their larvae live under the bark and cut off the tree's circulation by tunneling back and forth through its tissue.  "It cuts off the ability of the tree to move nutrients up into the canopy of the tree to feed the leaves and, therefore, the tree dies," she said.

It's believed the green beetle was transported to the U.S. inside packing material from China.  It was first discovered in Michigan in 2002, New York in 2009 and Rochester a year later.  It's unleashed an epidemic.

One in five trees in the Rochester area are Ash trees.  If they're not treated, all of them will eventually die.  That massive loss of trees would impact the environment.  "Trees are valuable in so many ways, the shade they give for heating and cooling, lowering air conditioning costs - that's an environmental factor," noted Riordan.  "They also give off oxygen, keep the air clean."

Ash trees are distinct.  They have opposite branching with a compound leaf and bark that has a diamond shape pattern.

They can be saved with preventative treatment.  An insecticide called TREE-age kills the larvae and adult beetles, but must be applied every two years.  The cost is based upon a tree's diameter.  Cities, parks and homeowners all have a choice. "Basically, the message is, if you have an Ash tree, you have to make a plan either to remove it or to treat it," said Riordan.

And she added the time is now.  A tree she's currently treating in Henrietta was full of leaves last summer.  Now half of its branches are bare this June.
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