Colorado is preparing to battle a tiny insect that’s destined to change the way our urban forest looks. The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is already in Boulder County, and it’s only a matter of time before this destructive pest is found in nearby counties.
Every single ash tree that lines the streets of our neighborhoods is at risk. The EAB loves these trees that make up about 15 percent or more of all city trees.
The newest weapon in the fight is a mobile app. Colorado State University Extension and the Colorado Forest Service joined together to create a free app to help with early detection of the EAB menace.
The app is easy to download to Apple and Android-based mobile devices. Just search for “EAB/Ash Tree ID.”
The app walks users step-by-step through tree identification to determine if the tree is an ash and susceptible to the EAB. If it’s an ash, there are more resources for EAB symptoms, management and links to much more information.
It’s important for tree owners to be aware that ash trees are already at risk so they can be prepared. It’s better to consider management and treatment options sooner rather than later.
The EAB/Ash Tree ID app is the latest tool in the Colorado campaign to raise awareness about the insect pest that has already killed tens of millions of ash trees across the states.
The Be a Smart Ash program, sponsored by the City of Denver, started its communications campaign last year. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is also actively involved in fighting the EAB.
Laura Pottorff with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, leads an excellent one-hour webinar called “EAB: Myth or Monster” for Colorado Master Gardeners. The webinar (taped in May) is available through the CMG online continuing education program and will give master gardeners the information they need to provide research-based information to their communities.
All these resources will help tree lovers start thinking about their options for managing the ash trees in their landscapes. Approaches include replacing ash trees now, planting new trees to take the place of an ash tree in the future, and researching the insecticides to treat trees when the time comes.
By Jodi Torpey
A Colorado Master Gardener
When I planted a white ash tree about 10 years ago, I never dreamed I’d be chopping it down while it was still healthy. But I did just that earlier this season and took the loppers to the tree while it was sending out new leaves.
I decided to take action now instead of waiting for the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) to take it out one day in the future.
It wasn’t an easy decision. I liked this tree a lot, especially in the fall when the leaves turned a brilliant yellow. But it’s only a matter of time before the dreaded EAB makes its way into my landscape and forces my hand.
The tiny Emerald Ash Borer has already caused the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in at least 20 states and now it’s in Colorado.
I chose to remove the tree this season to avoid my limited options in the future. Like other ash-tree owners, I’d have to decide whether to budget for the expense of treating a taller tree with insecticides every one or two years to prevent EAB damage or wait for the borers to kill the tree slowly and then hire someone to remove it for me.
Now that this ash tree is gone, I can take my time and find another kind of tree to replace it.
Then I’ll be able to focus my preventive efforts on the much larger ash that shades most of the front yard. That tree is more valuable and will be worth the cost of treating it, once the time comes.
Right now, home owners and urban foresters in and around Boulder are trying to make the same kinds of decisions. They’re deciding whether to treat their trees with insecticides — while weighing the costs with the environmental hazards; measuring the effectiveness with ease of application.
If you have ash trees on your property, you’ll have to make similar decisions in the future, too. Now’s a good time to start thinking of what you’ll do once the EAB invades your landscape. Would you remove a healthy ash tree as a drastic measure to prevent EAB in the future?
There are some good resources to help you decide, including CSU’s Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management website and the Colorado Department of Agriculture EAB website that includes an Ash Tree Zone interactive map and a way to sign up for the EAB newsletter to stay informed.
By Jodi Torpey
A Denver master gardener