Got Nature? Blog

Purdue Landscape Report: The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planennis, is still one of the most damaging insect pests ever to invade North American forests. Unlike most native boring insects, this beetle can attack and kill relatively healthy ash trees. In Indiana cities we found this insect capable of killing most of the unprotected ash trees within 6 to 10 years.  Nearly 20 years after its first detection in Indiana (2004), trees still need to be protected to keep them alive. The benefits of these living ash trees easily justify the cost of monitoring them. We provide answers to common questions people have about the need for continued treatment.

  • I have had a tree care specialist treat my ash trees for the last 10 years. What will happen to these trees if I stop this service? If your trees are still healthy, they were probably treated with injections of emamectin benzoate.  Initially we recommended treating trees once every 2 years. This was especially helpful during the initial invasion when each newly infested tree was producing hundreds of beetles per year.  Now that most of the untreated ash trees are dead in Indiana, there are fewer emerald ash borers to attack the surviving ash trees. Research clearly shows that treating trees once every 3 years is enough to keep ash trees alive. Increasing the time between treatments beyond 3 years will increase the risk of losing your trees.ash tree

We recently completed a 10-year study in Indianapolis, where large ash trees were treated at 3-year intervals (2013 and 2016), Although they were well-protected through 2019, we saw a slight increase in damage 4 and 5 years after the last injection (2020 and 2021).  By the 6th year trees after the last treatment (2022), trees declined to the point that they were a safety hazard.  Overall, spring treatments were more effective than fall treatments.

  • Is it worthwhile to continue treating my trees? The simple answer is YES, especially if you think about the costs of the alternatives over time. Consider the following choices:
    • Homeowner tree removal vs treatment. Suppose you had ash tree that was whose trunk diameter was 30 inches. If you were to have that tree and its stump removed, the cost could easily be $1800.   If an ash tree is near your house or other valuable structure special precautions need to be taken to keep limbs from causing damage. These protective measures add greatly to the labor costs and could easily double the removal costs ($3600). In contrast, to keep that tree alive, you would have to inject that tree once every three years at a cost of $300 (assuming the fee is $10/ diameter inch).  In other words, the $1800 -3600 you pay to remove the trees would provide 18-36 years of enjoying your tree!
    • Homeowner tree replacement vs treatment. Trees grow slowly. Most add a bit less than a half an inch per year of diameter to the trunk. So, if you add $500 on top of the removal costs to plant a new tree ($2300- $4100), the same money would provide 23 to 42 years of tree enjoyment. Moreover, the tree you planted would only be half the size of the original ash tree in 30 years.

For the full article please visit Purdue Landscape Report: Should ash trees still be protected from emerald ash borer?

New Hope for Fighting Ash Borer, Got Nature? Purdue Extension-FNR
Invasive Pest Species: Tools for Staging and Managing EAB in the Urban Forest, Got Nature?
Emerald Ash Borer, Purdue Extension-Entomology
Emerald Ash Borer Cost Calculator – Purdue Extension Entomology
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, Purdue Extension YouTube Channel
Tree Planting Part 2: Planting a Tree, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Indiana Invasive Plant List, Indiana Invasive Species Council, Purdue Entomology
Landscape Report Shares Importance of Soil Testing, Purdue FNR Extension
Find an Arborist website, Trees are Good, International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
Tree Risk Management – The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center

Bob Bruner, Exotic Forest Pest Educator
Purdue Entomology

Cliff Sadof, Professor, Ornamental, Pest Management
Purdue Entomology Extension Coordinator

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