The control of nature is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and the convenience of man. ~Rachel Carson
Lately I have been dealing with invasive plants in my meadow, and while it is time consuming and can be quite the battle it seems you can at least make some headway even with some of the worst invasives. But this summer I was under siege again but this time from a different invasive that is harder to battle; insects, non-native insects to be exact.
The Japanese beetles were relentless and we were forced to put up traps. We trapped thousands of beetles in a week’s time and it certainly helped although we may have been too late to stop females from laying more eggs. None of our native birds seem to like these beastly beetles, and I haven’t found that they have many predators. Now I know you can put down milky spore on the lawn (which we will do), but I have found the grubs in my gardens too. And even if I get rid of my lawn more and more (which I have done) my neighbors are all about lawns. So the next hot, dry summer we will be doing battle again, but the traps will go up sooner.
This is the saga of the Japanese beetle. And where did this beetle come from? Well in all likelihood it was imported with plants over 100 years ago from Japan. One hundred years and we still have this pest wreaking havoc.
And now we have to deal with another imported pest that is far more destructive in my mind; the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). So what is all the hubbub over the EAB? Well this beetle is an invasive wood-boring beetle that feeds on and eventually kills ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). It also came from Asia, but this time only 20 years ago in ash wood pallets brought into Ontario, Canada and Michigan.
In that 20 years, EAB has spread into 15 states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin) and two Canadian provinces; Ontario and Quebec. Millions of trees have died, and 7.5 billion trees are at risk.
These beetles spread to NY in 2009 and have moved throughout Western and downstate NY. Central NY, where I live, has been spared so far. Recently we found out that it is not if they will invade, but when it will finally reach us. They are predicting that within the next 10 years we will lose all the ash trees in our county. Do you know that my county in NY has millions of ash trees seven of which are in my wildlife garden? And the whole state will finally succumb to this invasive predator.
The spread of EAB has been accelerated due to the transport of infested firewood and ash logs/products. In an effort to slow the spread, both Federal and State agencies have instituted quarantines of infested areas to regulate the transport of ash products. Of course you can also spray and put up traps and it may slow these bugs down. But in reality they will still kill the ash trees and spraying may harm the wildlife.
So what are the impacts of the loss of ash trees?
The impacts of EAB infestation in New York will be severe:
In New York, ash was widely planted in urban and suburban areas to replace native elm trees that were killed by Dutch elm disease. The loss of large numbers of mature ash trees can have a devastating impact on the urban and suburban canopy, which can lead to localized temperature changes, increased energy costs, increased water usage for irrigation, increased stormwater runoff, and increased air pollution. The economic impact of removing and replacing thousands of dead trees in yards and along streets, and the potential public safety hazards and liability issues of dead ash trees along streets, in parks and in yards will be a challenge for communities and homeowners.
In natural forest settings, native ash trees are common (white, green and black ash make up almost 8% of all trees in NYS forests, 10% of all hardwood forests), providing habitat and a food source (seeds) for both birds and mammals.
Ash trees are valuable commercially, used for the manufacture of flooring, furniture, and shipping pallets, as well as that all-American device, the baseball bat. The almost 114 million board feet of ash lumber grown annually in the eastern U.S. is worth about $25 billion. New York Invasive Species-EAB
And what will be the impact to my wildlife garden?
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.” ~William Blake
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