Thursday, December 25, 2008

Invasive Pest Leads to Public Safety Hazard

Pennsylvania municipalities need to start thinking about how they're going to manage their dying ash trees. That's according to Sven-Erik Spichiger, an entomologist with the state Department of Agriculture. The emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle native to Asia, has killed tens of millions of ash trees in North America. It was found in Michigan in 2002. In 2007, the beetle was discovered in western Pennsylvania.

Spichiger says since the beetle was found in Cranberry two summers ago, trees have been dying quickly. During a visit this past summer, he says he saw rows of large ash trees that had no leaves. After Dutch Elm Disease wiped out that type of tree, Spichiger says many municipalities bought large numbers of ash trees to plant along streets. Now, those trees are dying and creating a public safety hazard.

Spichiger says there are few effective ways of keeping the pest under control. He says homeowners can buy pesticides to save individual trees, but they have to be applied every year and they're quite expensive. Spichiger says the Ag Department's focus has been on trying to control the beetle's spread. A firewood quarantine remains in Pennsylvania counties where the emerald ash borer has been found: Allegheny, Butler, Beaver and Mercer. Lawrence County is also included in the quarantine since it's surrounded by the other counties. That means if you go camping in some other county, you should wait to buy firewood until you get there.

No comments: