Mar 15
Abigail7789's picture

The Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer is an insect that is rapidly closing in on almost all of North America's ash trees, threatening to destroy all but 0.3% of them, all except for a select species called the blue ash. So, rather than injecting all of our ash trees with pesticides, or chopping them all down, we should look further into this resistant species.

The emerald ash borer kills ash trees by eating the layer underneath the bark of the tree, or the Cambium, but that’s the same thing many native North American insects do. The problem isn’t how the emerald ash borer is killing the ash trees, it’s the circumstances. The emerald ash borer is an invasive species with no natural predators, and since our ash trees have never seen the insect before, they have no defenses yet. Also the emerald ash borer, though it does not move very far on its own, moves easily because of humans.

While people are looking into a diverse selection of solutions for protecting our trees against the emerald ash borer, one of the best solutions may be a particular species of the very tree in question. There is a certain type of ash trees that the Insect just doesn't like, and we still don’t know exactly why. The blue ash trees seems to be resistant to the emerald ash borer, and if we were to find out why we may be able to help the other species of ash trees. “Scientists recently determined that blue ash is relatively resistant to EAB, making it likely that this species will survive the EAB invasion.”(McCullough) Looking further into this species of ash trees and figuring out what exactly keeps these trees safe would be beneficial for so many reasons. We can grow a new generation of ash trees that are safe from the harm that the emerald ash borer has caused, or we could possibly find a way to keep the non-resistant ash trees safe.

 If we use the money we have to learn more about the emerald ash borer, and what they don’t like about the resistant ash trees, then we may have a long term shot at saving our Ash Trees. We may also be able to find a better way to prevent the emerald ash borer from spreading because we will know more about the situation we are in, and what we can, or should, do about it.

Another popular idea is that we should inject all of our ash trees with pesticides to keep the emerald ash borer away, but if we were to do that then there would be many consequences. First of all, the pesticides will not only keep the emerald ash borer away, but many other insects as well, insects that the ash trees may need. In fact 286 different species of insects and spiders depend on Ash trees to survive, and 44 of those species only eat ash trees. Pesticides or insecticides may also drive away all of the small animals that depend on the ash trees. So, although the chemicals may keep the tree safe, it may have more consequences then benefits. Also pesticides can be hazardous to anyone and anything, meaning that pesticides may dangerously affect humans as well as all of the animals around the tree.

So, in conclusion the blue ash tree’s may be our ticket to saving our ash trees. The blue ash tree is already uncommon compared to the white, green, and black ash, but if we were to plant more of this resistant species, then we would grow a new generation of safe ash trees. This resistant species is currently not native to Vermont, but it could be. The blue ash is grown currently in Michigan, which reaches similar temperatures to Vermont, which in turn means we may be able to repopulate Vermont with the resistant, beautiful, blue ash.

Bibliography
McCullough, Deborah G. “Will We Kiss Our Ash Goodbye?” American Forests, American Forests, 23 Jan. 2013, www.americanforests.org/magazine/article/will-we-kiss-our-ash-goodbye/.

“Blue Ash and the Emerald Ash Borer.” Venerable Trees, Venerable Trees, 2 Mar. 2017, www.venerabletrees.org/blue-ash-and-the-emerald-ash-borer/.

Peterson, Donnie L. “Suitability of Blue Ash (Fraxinus Quadrangulata) and Green Ash (f.Pennsylvanica) to Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus Planipennis) and Its Larval Parasitoid Tetrastichus Planipennisi.” Purdue e-Pubs, docs.lib.purdue.edu/dissertations/AAI1585412/.
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