BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo’s latest and best weapon against a destructive pest that has already laid millions of ash trees to waste across the U.S. is a curved arborist’s hand saw.
Foresters for the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy use it to strip bark from infested trees to draw the emerald ash borer away from the healthy ash trees.
The ash borer is native to Asia, where the ash trees have developed a natural defense against the pest, but Olmsted’s Forestry Manager Mark Brand said, the EAB seems to sense the stripped trees’ weakened state, and is naturally drawn to them.
“They like to go after wounded trees, but here in the U.S., it would not even matter–they can go after any tree. But they just homed in on the wounded ones, so we do this to attract them.”
While nearby, healthy trees are injected with insecticide. Olmsted Tree Care Supervisor Shane Daley said the natural pesticide is injected at the bottom of the trunk, and as it is drawn up the tree’s vascular tissue, it kills the beetles and their larvae.
“It will totally wipe out any larvae that are in it, or any eggs that are hatched on it, or any adults that might eat its leaves.”
Olmsted officials are also fighting the war against the pest on another front in South Park, by promoting a natural enemy of the beetles–woodpeckers. Foresters hung birdhouses, specifically made for woodpeckers, high in the trees at South Park.
Woodpeckers feast on the beetles’ larvae, so Brand said they enlisted the help of Boy Scouts to build the woodpecker boxes, “We hung those in the park, and that was just an attempt to help foster the growth of the woodpeckers.”
Can the ash trees be saved? Brand conceded many more trees will be lost to the EAB, but he is confident, “As long as we can save trees until the pests move through the area, I think we can preserve ash trees in our environment for the future and for generations to come.”
The Olmsted Parks Conservancy has identified 1,200 ash trees in the park system, and parks officials are trying to protect 200 of them. The Conservancy has started a special fund, Help Save Our Ash Trees, to save the ashes, and you can donate by clicking on the link.