Save Your Ash Tree

By Alan Viau

The emerald ash borer is destroying trees all over eastern North America, including those in Ottawa-Gatineau. A simple treatment will save your ash tree, but you need to do it before it gets infected.

I love our ash tree in the front yard. Its stately presence and shade are enjoyable during the summer months.

The emerald ash borer is a highly destructive invasive beetle. The pest of ash trees, it has been in Canada since the summer of 2002. 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.

Ottawa-Gatineau is one of the regulated areas for the emerald ash borer. This means the beetle has been detected and deemed a problem in this locale, so if there are ash trees on your property, they’re at risk.

The larvae of the beetle feed on the sap of the tree just under the bark. Since the supply of nutrients is cut off, the tree dies quickly. Once infested, ash trees generally die in two or three years. However, heavily infested trees can die after only one year of beetle attack.

Unfortunately you can only see signs of infestation once the tree has been heavily infested. These signs include the loss of green color in the uppermost leaves and thinning and dieback of the crown foliage.  With a 30 percent loss of foliage, there is a 50 percent chance that treatment will save the tree.

When the tree is dead, it becomes a safety hazard because it is brittle and unstable. Structural failure will have the tree collapse on itself. Tree removal experts need to take extra care in cutting a dead ash tree down. That means it is more expensive (can be over $1000) to remove your dead tree.

So the key is to saving you ash tree is to prevent it from being infected in the first place. There is only one product in Canada registered to do this, Tree Azin which is based on an extract from the Neem tree. Vaccination with Tree Azin protects the tree for two years from the pest. You need to hire a trained and certified arbourist to inoculate your tree with Tree Azin.

The arbourist will drill holes and place nozzles in the tree about one foot off the ground. The number of application sites depends on the diameter of the tree. My tree is 34 centimetres and required nine injection sites.

Pressured canisters of Tree Azin are attached to the nozzles. A healthy tree will take up the liquid quickly. You can see the liquid being taken up within 30 minutes.

Injection site. Photo by Alan Viau

For my tree, the price for treatment was $200. That’s a lot less expensive than cutting down the tree and replacing it with a younger tree. And I get to enjoy my White Ash tree for years to come.

In our region, it is certain that your ash tree will get infected. Act now to save it.

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