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February 16, 2013

Emerald ash borer in Clay, could be in Vigo

TERRE HAUTE — The emerald ash borer, which is destroying ash trees throughout the East and Midwest, is already in Clay County and is likely in Vigo County.

Cliff Sadof, a professor of ornamental/pest management in the Purdue University Department of Entomology, said a Vigo County gardener recently showed him a piece of bark that showed symptoms like that of the emerald ash borer.

“It could be there and it would not surprise me at all if it is found. It is spreading all over the state. It is already in the county to the east and to the west [of Vigo County]. However, no larvae has been extracted yet” from Vigo County, Sadof said Friday.

A specimen has to be taken to a U.S. Department of Agriculture identifier to be confirmed, he said. The reason for the official confirmation is wood sales and distribution can be limited in quarantined counties with the ash borer.

“We have a tip as to where we think it might be in Vigo County and we will investigate,” Sadof said Friday.

Sadof will be in Terre Haute on Monday as part of a public meeting of TREES Inc. at noon at the Vigo County Public Library. Sadof, along with Terre Haute’s city forester and other officials, will speak about the ash borer and how to protect existing ash trees.

The adult emerald ash borer is dark metallic green in color, about a half inch long and an eighth of an inch wide. The borer destroys the water and nutrient conducting tissues under the bark of an ash tree. An infected tree is completely dead within two years of when symptoms begin.

The leaf canopy on infected trees dies off and branches soon die and fall off the tree.

“There are great tools available now to save your trees,” Sadof said. “In most cases, you save money by keeping a tree alive rather than replacing it. If you have a tree that is a foot and a half in diameter, it will take 36 years to get a tree that big again,” he said.

Homeowners can learn about treatments to protect ash trees at www.eab

indiana.info.

The emerald ash borer was first detected in southeast Michigan in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The insect most likely came in ash wood used for stabilizing cargo in ships or for packing and crating heavy consumer products, according to the USDA.

It has been found in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

Keith Ruble, superintendent of the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department, said the ash borer “may be here and we not know it. Tree trimmers have not found it and loggers have not found it yet.”

Ruble said the most common ash in Vigo County is the white ash, while the green ash is most common in the city limits of Terre Haute. There are some unique blue ash trees in several county parks, trees Ruble said the parks department will chemically treat to save from the ash borer.

“Most of the woods we have in Indiana, ash trees are about 15 to 18 percent of all the trees in the woods,” Ruble said.

The parks department will likely protect 100 to 150 ash trees in Fowler Park, along with other trees in Prairie Creek Park and Flesher Woods. Ruble said the measure will likely be expensive, however the parks department would not start treatments any sooner than 2014.

Ruble said insects and fungus are killing several native North American trees “one at a time. We have lost the American elm, the butternut tree and we lost the American chestnut to blight,” he said.

Now insects such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle threaten the Sugar Maple and the Black Walnut is under attack from Cankers disease, caused by a fungus, Ruble added.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

 

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