Destructive pest on Renfrew County’s doorstep 0
Emerald ash borer
Leaving Ottawa in its wake, the emerald ash borer is on Renfrew County’s doorstep, moving closer to infecting and killing local ash trees.
While it continues to hit Canada’s capital financially and aesthetically, the green beetle will have the same disastrous effect on the county.
“Ottawa has been dealing with it since 2008,” said county forester Lacey Rose. “Ottawa’s forestry program budget was almost $2 million for 2012 and another million was just added to deal with the emerald ash borer. That’s mostly on removal of hazard ash trees dead or dying as a result of the insect.”
In the spring Jeff Muzzi, manager of forests, reported to Renfrew County council development and property committee the emerald ash borer was in Kanata, but last month the foreign insect was discovered in Fitzroy Harbour, only 15 kilometres from the county line.
Likely, the borer made its way into Fitzroy Harbour via firewood, which is the most common way the insect migrates said Ms. Rose.
The borer has killed millions of ash tress in southwestern Ontario, Michigan and surrounding states since it arrived in North America. The invasive, wood-eating beetle was most likely imported from Asia through improperly treated wood material.
“The greatest issues facing Renfrew County as a result of the emerald ash borer are the loss of ash trees, the potential impact to unique ash forest stands,(for example black ash swales) and the financial impact on the firewood industry,” said Ms. Rose.
The tree killing adult beetles are metallic green between 8.5 to 13.5 millimetres long and slender. Their heads are flattened and compound eyes cover most of the side of the head.
The adults lay their eggs in the bark of an ash tree and when they hatch the larvae tunnel into the tree and feed on the cambium, a layer of live wood between the bark and the sapwood, carving out an S-shaped pattern, also called a “galley” into the tree. They kill the tree from the top down explained Ms. Rose.
The adults feed on the leaves after their emergence, but the main damage has been done during the larval stage.
Once the beetle is discovered in a county, the whole county is quarantined allowing contaminated wood to travel through the county. Being the largest county, this could prove detrimental for the whole area which is why county council is asking the Harper government for an exception.
Having passed a resolution, county council is requesting the federal minister of agriculture reduce the minimum size of the emerald ash borer quarantine to one geographic township from its current minimum county quarantine.
The move would slowdown the rate the pest spreads throughout the county as well as reduce the economic impact on firewood producers in parts of the county.
For example, once the county has been quarantined firewood suppliers in Deep River will not be allowed to sell their wood outside the county to Algonquin Park.
Ms. Rose has been visiting municipalities throughout the county to keep officials apprised of the damage the pest could cause and how municipalities can be proactive in slowing the spread of the borer through the county.
To slow the spread of the destructive foreign pest Ms. Rose suggests people do not move firewood. A number of serious forest pests can be housed in dry or rotting wood. She also suggested people do not bring unused firewood home with them if they have been camping outside of the county.
She recommends people do not plant ash trees. The spread of the emerald ash borer seems to be imminent and Ms. Rose noted it would result in the loss of an investment.
She suggested homeowners explore their treatment options for the ash trees on their property.
“If you have an ash tree on your property that you can’t bear the thought of losing, there is a preventative treatment approved for use in Canada that has proven effective in protecting against emerald ash borer,” said Ms. Rose.
In a preemptive move, people can plant a different tree species near their ash tree, but Ms. Rose does not recommend people remove their healthy ash trees.
Cyndi Mills is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist