Forester Jeff Wiegert, of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, removes emerald ash borer larvae from an ash tree at Esopus Bend Nature Preserve in Saugerties, N.Y. in this 2011 photo. ap file photo
By Paul Post, The Saratogian
Posted: 06/13/16, 2:07 PM EDT | Updated: 2 days ago
SARATOGA SPRINGS >> An invasive insect that devastates certain hardwood trees and threatens the upstate New York economy has been detected in Saratoga County.
The emerald ash borer has been identified in Waterford and Ballston Lake, the state Department of Environmental Conservation says.
The small green beetle feasts on ash trees that are used to make handles for many wooden tools, and major league baseball bats manufactured by Rawlings in Dolgeville, Herkimer County.
Since late 2014, the number of New York state counties with infestations has grown from 22 to 34.
“DEC continues to survey for emerald ash borer within the state to notify municipalities and private landowners of new detections or expansions of existing infestations,” said Basil Seggos, acting DEC commissioner.
The insect was verified in Waterford after a landowner contacted officials to report its discovery.
In Ballston Lake, the pest was confirmed through ongoing monitoring efforts.
The green-colored beetle originated in Asia, but has devastated many neighborhoods in addition to woodlands since arriving in the U.S. It has previously been detected in Troy, Watervliet, Albany and Colonie.
In January 2015, the Capital District Emerald Ash Borer Task Force held its first-ever meeting in an attempt to tackle the problem.
Urban and suburban communities are particularly at risk because ash is a common street and park tree. Green ash, in particular, has been widely planted as an ornamental tree in yards. Locating infested sites early can significantly delay the loss of ash trees and decrease the subsequent costs for their removal and replacement.
Damage is caused by the larvae that feed just below the ash tree’s bark. The tunnels they create disrupt water and nutrient transport, causing branches and eventually the entire tree to die.
Dead ash trees deteriorate quickly and fall unpredictably, creating significant liability issues with pedestrians.
Adult beetles leave distinctive D-shaped exit holes in the outer bark of the branches and the trunk. Other signs of infestation include tree canopy dieback, splits in the bark and extensive sprouting from the roots and trunk. Infested trees may also exhibit woodpecker damage from larvae extraction.
Moving firewood is one of the main ways the insect spreads. The DEC prohibits the movement of firewood more than 50 miles from its source.
Quarantine regulations also prohibit the movement of ash wood out of “restrictive zones” in order to delay the emerald ash borer’s spread to uninfested areas.
Updated quarantine maps are available on DEC’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/47761.html.
When infestations are found outside of restrictive zones, DEC recommends that infested wood be kept local or destroyed to avoid spreading the beetle to new areas.
DEC urges residents and municipalities to inspect ash trees for signs of infestation. Homeowners and municipalities can contact the nearest DEC forestry office for technical assistance and management recommendations.
Management options include treating healthy trees with insecticide and removing stressed trees that may attract the insect.
Forest landowners can request a DEC forester visit their woodlot and develop a free Forest Stewardship Plan. This plan would address the landowner’s objectives and discuss how the arrival or proximity of the emerald ash borer could impact the owner’s forest resources. Forest owners can schedule a site visit by contacting their local DEC Forestry office (http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/27790.html).
To learn more about the insect as well as efforts to reduce its negative impact and save trees, visit DEC’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7253.html.
For more information about the Capital District Emerald Ash Borer Task Force call (518) 402-9420.