Brecksville's Handy Homeowner: The Emerald Ash Borer
This pest has made its way into Brecksville and across several states.
I've always found insects to be interesting and beautiful. I spent a large part of my childhood collecting them, and I still have the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders that my Dad gave me for my 12th birthday. Insects are an important part of our ecology, but one in particular is becoming a real pest for municipalities and homeowners.
An Asian beetle called the Emerald Ash Borer has become more than a nuisance in the last several years. According to the website emeraldashborer.info, it is responsible for the widespread mortality of ash trees in at least 10 states in the U.S. and in some regions of Canada. And it’s here in Brecksville, as well.
I spoke with Charles Owen in July. He has been the city of Brecksville’s Horticulturist for more than 11 years. Owen said that the city has been treating its ash trees with pesticides for several years now to help combat the Emerald Ash Borer.
Owen said that once a tree begins dying off, it has already been infested for several years and it’s probably too late to save it. He also said the borer seems to be isolated to the southern end of Brecksville at this time, but the spread of the insect is difficult to track because it can take several years for the damage to become obvious.
According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, every county in Ohio is now under a U.S. Department of Agriculture quarantine, and no ash tree material or hardwood firewood may leave the state.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website, the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) is a beetle from Asia that was accidentally introduced to southeastern Michigan several years ago and first appeared in Ohio in 2003. The larvae of this insect consume part of the inside of the tree. Signs of an infestation include one-eighth inch, D-shaped holes on the bark of ash trees, as well as a serpentine pattern of tunnels underneath the bark, dead branches and lots of woodpecker activity.
Our native trees have no natural defense against this non-native species, and even the healthiest trees rarely survive.
The Brecksville Nature Center in the Brecksville Reservation has information on identifying your trees, including an entire display on the Emerald Ash Borer. And the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website has quite a bit of information about this problem, as well, including a fact sheet from the Ohio State University Extension office about identifying ash trees.
The Cleveland Metroparks is having a program called "Alien Invasion" on August 21. During this guided hike around Lake Isaac in the Big Creek Reservation, participants will see obvious signs of the Emerald Ash Borer and learn to identify ash trees.
Although the Emerald Ash Borer really is a beautifully iridescent greenish-gold color, this is an insect that I don't like. If it's not in my field guide, it's not supposed to be here.