Purdue experts develop app to treat emerald ash borer

May 18, 2015  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - With the emerald ash borer now in season again, a Purdue Extension mobile app can assist homeowners and community leaders in identifying and treating infested trees.

Since the first sighting of the emerald ash borer in 2002 in Ohio, the highly destructive beetle has killed tens of millions of ash trees across the Midwest. The EAB was first spotted in Indiana in 2004 and since has spread to 95 percent of the state, destroying more than 1 million trees.

Purdue entomology professor Cliff Sadof and some of his colleagues developed the Purdue Tree Doctor app, which includes information on identifying and treating ash trees before it is too late for pesticides to work.

"All of the ash tree pesticides need trees with a healthy vascular system to move the compounds up the trunk from the site of application," Sadof said. "Trees that have lost more than half of their canopy are unlikely to move enough insecticide to kill borers beneath the bark or adults feeding on leaves."

The app is designed to help users diagnose the early signs of infested ash trees and identify whether there is still time for treatment.

"Our hope is that homeowners and professionals load their phones or tablets with the Purdue Tree Doctor app so they can walk up to a tree and use photos to guide them to appropriate management actions," Sadof said.

Sadof describes EAB invasion as a "tidal wave washing over whole communities." Pesticides act as chemical "bunkers" that can protect the trees. Once the wave has passed, Sadof says, pesticide use will not be needed as often.

Sadof used the "invasion wave" concept to develop a Web-based emerald ash borer cost calculator to help communities use local sources for tree removal, replacement and treatment in projecting costs over 25 years. If caught in time, infested ash trees are cheaper to treat than to remove.

Sadof hopes community leaders and landowners will use The Tree Doctor app on their smartphones to identify EAB damage before most of the trees die. 

"In this way, more Indiana communities can continue to reap the benefits of a healthy urban forest," he said.

More information on EAB can be found at http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/EAB/. The Tree Doctor app can be downloaded at https://www.purdueplantdoctor.com/ or through Purdue Extension's The Education Store at www.edustore.purdue.edu

Writer: Emma Hopkins, 765-494-8402, hopkine@purdue.edu 

Source: Cliff Sadof, 765-494-5983, csadof@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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