Once the insect has infiltrated the bark, Hansen said it’s already too late. And the pest’s subtle signs and size make it difficult to detect.
While EAB can only travel roughly a half mile annually, lumber transportation (such as firewood movement) has accelerated the migration. Experts estimate between 30 and 35 percent of all trees in Clinton can be affected.
As more communities have become aware of the problem, the infestation has somewhat slowed. Hansen and others say communication with the community is important.
“If we can get that education across, we can slow it down,” said Randy Pennock, Tree Commission member. “It’s caught up with us, and (infestation) is inevitable, unfortunately.”
Brad Seward at the Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency said his group has started turning away unwanted ash remnants in order to prevent a potential spread. And the Tree Commission is writing a grant to get a full inventory of trees in order to make recommendations to the Clinton City Council.
“Anytime I get news it’s approaching, I perk up my ears,” Seward said. “We’ve started discussions about how much longer do we sell our yard waste mulch. Are we unknowingly sending EAB back out of our doors?”
Still, nothing will stop what horticulturalists are calling a “tidal wave.” For now, it’s important for homeowners who own ash trees to decide to remove or pretreat their plants.
By making Clinton’s horticulture more diverse, Hansen believes the community can minimize the EAB impact.
The alternative will be scores of dead wood that will be similar to that troubling time of Dutch Elm Disease.
“It’s going to come and people need to pay attention to the news,” Hansen said. “Information is going to change as we progress.”
Pennock added tree owners should closely monitor their ashes. The EAB leaves a penny-sized, D-shaped hole in the wood – the most telling sign of an infestation. Branches sprouting low in the base of tree trunks, canopies thinning out and mature bark peeling off are also red flags. No one symptom is a tell-all sign of EAB.
Anyone who suspects EAB in their ash trees should contact the USDA Forest Service at 1-866-322-4512 or visit www.emeraldashborer.info.
Brenden West can be contacted at email@example.com.