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Summer: A Great Time to Hug (Or Save) a Tree Katherine Burrows

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rees are an integral part of life in the Stone Mills Canadian Shield region. We look forward to summer when we can sit under trees in our lawn chairs. Our children climb and swing from trees. After swimming, we hang wet bathing suits and towels on trees. A large number of our beloved trees are currently suffering under attack from the Emerald Ash Borer. For more information on this highly destructive invasive insect, I contacted Stone Mills resident, Amanda Tracey, Coordinator – Conservation Biology at the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Central Ontario – East Ontario Region. Amanda explains, “The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a wood-boring beetle that attacks and kills all species of Ash (black, white, green). Adult beetles lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. Once the larva emerge, they essentially tunnel under the bark and chew/eat their way around under the bark, until they emerge from the tree as adults.” The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website provides this description: “The beetle is metallic green in colour and is 8.5 to 14.0 millimetres long (about ½ inch) and 3.1 to 3.4 millimetres wide (½ inch). While the back of the insect is an iridescent, metallic green, the underside is a bright emerald green. The body is narrow and elongated, and the head is flat. The eyes are kidney-shaped and usually black. Emerald ash borer larvae are white and flat, with distinctive bell-shaped segments, and can grow up to 30 millimetres long (1 inch).” Although the EAB was only discovered in Canada in the early 2000s, “it is believed to have killed millions of trees in the United States and Canada, with billions more across North America at risk of infestation and death” according to the CFIA, creating a significant impact on major habitats and industries. The CFIA notes, “Ash wood is also used to make furniture, hardwood floors, baseball bats, tool handles, electric guitars, hockey sticks and other materials that require high strength and resilience.” It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t use at least one of those items regularly. In addition to providing strong wood for things like furniture or flooring, Amanda informs me that, “Ash trees are a common species in our area. They are significant in forests and wetland, and are also, importantly, one of few species that is able to tolerate the pressures of urban areas, so you often see them planted throughout cities and urban parks. Given that ash trees are so abundant, a loss of ash trees can affect the filtration of our air, can have important implications for flooding and water filtration and pollution management. Ash trees also provide support for wildlife, whether it be as food, shelter or as a nesting site. If ash trees were to die off, it would have cascading effects in the food web.” Amanda notes that residents can “look for adult EAB with a shiny, green appearance to emerge in the early summer months. These beetles are small – maybe ½ an inch in size with a very flat head, and large, black eyes.” Signs of the beetle, she continues, “include die back of leaves (yellowing, wilting), which can occur out of season and is a good indicator that something is wrong with the tree. Adult beetles that

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emerge from ash trees leave a D-shaped or half-circle shaped hole in the bark. If the bark is falling off or peeling, you may see S-shaped tunnels under the bark which were left by the larva. It can take a few years for EAB to kill a tree, but in some aggressive invasions it has happened within a single season.” To find out if you have ash trees on your property, you should know, “There are five species of ash in Ontario. Black, Green, Red, Blue and White. White ash is by far the most common of these trees. White ash can be recognized by diamond-patterned bark on mature individuals and have opposite and compound leaves. There are few natural predators for EAB, but woodpeckers are one of them. If you notice unusually high woodpecker activity in a tree, you should check for some of the other signs of EAB too,” notes Amanda. I asked Amanda what advice she has for Stone Mills residents who want to protect the trees on their properties. She replied, “Be aware and educate yourself – The first thing you can do is understand the problem EAB is causing, and learn to identify ash trees, the beetles, and the signs of the beetles. Report beetle signs and sightings to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) or the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).” According to the CFIA website, their proposed plan to control the EAB includes: “regulating the movement of ash materials and firewood; performing enforcement activities; doing surveillance; providing effective communications; and supporting continued research.” Further, the CFIA no longer promotes the removal of trees in infested areas. Their website confirms, “the CFIA has determined that removing infested host trees is not an effective tool in managing the emerald ash borer. The CFIA only orders trees to be removed within regulated areas for the purpose of supporting research.” Amanda recommends that property owners consult a forestry professional first. “They can help assess your property and can help with a cutting plan or offer other alternatives.” Amanda also suggests to residents, “Find

Top photo shows the S-shaped tunnels left by Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) larvae under the bark of an ash tree; adult EAB beetle (bottom right). out if you live in a regulated zone. A regulated zone is set by the CFIA and this means wood can’t be transported out of that zone. EAB actually cannot travel that far and are most often dispersed further distances in wood being moved by humans! Not moving ash wood (whether it be firewood or parts of an ash tree) is generally a good practice, whether you live in a regulated zone or not.” The next time you are relaxing in the shade of a tree with your favourite summer beverage, take a moment to

appreciate all the gifts we receive from our local trees. Then take a closer look. If you see signs of the emerald ash borer, take the opportunity to learn more about how you can help minimize the damage in our community.

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The SCOOP // April / May 2019  

The SCOOP is an independent community newsmagazine. Since 2005, we have been covering rural life in the Ontario area north of the 401 and so...

The SCOOP // April / May 2019  

The SCOOP is an independent community newsmagazine. Since 2005, we have been covering rural life in the Ontario area north of the 401 and so...

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