Emerald ash borer found in Londonderry Surrounding towns now seen as infected or high risk

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation has announced that the emerald ash borer, a beetle that has been decimating ash trees from Michigan to Maine, now has been found in Londonderry.

According to a statement released Thursday, the infested area includes all of Londonderry, Windham, and Landgrove and most of Jamaica, Winhall, Peru, Weston, Andover and Grafton. Chester, Townshend, Stratton, Athens, Mount Tabor and Wardsboro are in the “high risk area.”

“The infestation was found in early October,” Forest Health Program Manager Barbara Schultz said this morning in an interview with The Telegraph. “A homeowner noticed the beetle and it was reported by an arborist.”

The emerald ash borer lays its eggs in the folds of ash tree bark. The larvae bore into the tree, feeding and tunneling through the layer just under the bark. When they mature into adults, the beetles chew their way out of the tree leaving a distinctive “D” shaped hole.

Ash trees that are infected at first may not look it since damage will be higher than eye-level, according to Schultz. Woodpecker damage could also be a sign that an ash tree is infected so look for bark sloughed off with an orange color underneath.

An adult emerald ash borer. Wikipedia

An infestation can kill the tree within three to five years. A dead ash tree is dangerous because it will break apart and come town in pieces.

Windham County Forester Sam Schneski said that Vermont has had a long period without the beetle while neighboring states had infestations. “Then — in about 20 months — we’re finding them all over the place,” said Schneski, who noted that the beetles prefer stressed trees and that the dry growing seasons from 2014 to 2018 have stressed the forests.

While the ash borer has caused a large scale die-off of ash trees in other states, there have been white ash trees that appear to be resistant to the beetle. Schneski hopes that landowners will not cut all their ash trees in advance of the infestation because they could be removing resistant trees along with susceptible ones. There is a hope that resistant trees could be the beginning of reestablishing the ash tree in the future.

Schneski oversees the state’s current use program in Windham County and says that people participating in that program need to look at their forestry plan in light of a projected die-off of much of their ash inventory. “They may need to look at making amendments to their plan,” said Schneski.

Woodpecker flecking on an infested ash tree. Courtesy VT Invasives

Municipalities that have been expecting that the approach of the ash borer would be years in the future are now faced with the need to deal with the often very large number of ash trees hanging over their road rights of way.  “This detection tells the towns that the grace period is over,” said Schultz.

The Londonderry Select Board has had a number of discussions about what to do when the beetle arrives, and Weston has done a “quick” inventory of their ash trees, finding as many as 50 trees per mile of road right of way. Weston Select Board member Jim Linville has taken the lead there doing research and reporting back at meetings.

“The first step is understanding how many trees they have,” said Schultz and then planning to remove trees that might fall on the roads. Schultz says that homeowners should also make a plan, identifying trees that could damage buildings or endanger people and deciding what to do about them.

An ‘s’ shaped EAB gallery in New York State in 2013.Photo by Emilie Inoue

Chester Select Board Chair Arne Jonynas agreed, “We need an inventory of ash trees on roadsides where the danger is greatest, We have an tree inventory in the village, but not on the rural roads.”

“We’ll need to have an agenda item at a meeting with (road foreman) Kirby Putnam there,” Jonynas said on Friday. “I didn’t realize it would be this quick.”

Schultz noted that, inside the risk area, landowners should treat their trees as if they are already infected.

“Don’t move ash firewood outside the risk area and make sure that anyone purchasing logs knows that they come from an infested area,” said Shultz.

The website Vermont Invasives contains a wealth of information about the ash borer and ash trees with sections for forest landowners, homeowners, municipalities and other stakeholders. Both Schultz and Schneski say the website is the best place to start to learn about the ash borer.

A group of tree wardens, foresters, loggers and other interested people from southern Windsor and Rutland counties have begun meeting in Ludlow to discuss municipal approaches to the ash borer problem. The group calling itself the Regional EAB Resource Committee (RERC) will function as a resource for municipalities in those areas. The next meeting of the group will be at 10 a.m. on Monday November 18, 2019 at Ludlow Town Hall, 37 Depot Street.

 

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  1. Bruce Frauman says:

    Thank you Shawn for this thorough discussion of the EAB and its threat to ash trees. We knew this was coming, but I for one, did not expect its discovery so soon.

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