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Invasive pest could devastate 13% of Middle Tennessee’s tree canopy in next three years


Invasive pest could devastate 13% of Middle Tennessee’s tree canopy in next three years

STAFF REPORTS

The invasive insect responsible for the death of hundreds of millions of trees in 35 states continues to spread across Middle Tennessee.

First discovered in Tennessee at a truck stop just east of Knoxville in 2010, the Emerald Ash Borer has moved west toward Nashville at an alarming pace, killing hundreds of thousands of ash trees in its path and causing 62 counties, including Davidson and Williamson, to be quarantined against moving ash wood of any kind.

Emerald Ash Borer
The remains of a tree killed by an infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer.

According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, “no native ash tree is immune to the devastating effects of this invasive pest. All untreated ash trees in Davidson County will be dead or dying by 2020, destroying almost 13% of Middle Tennessee’s total tree canopy over the next three years.” In all, it’s estimated that more than 270 million trees will perish statewide over the next seven years, an estimated $11 billion in value.

The creature is native to Asia, and is thought to have migrated to North America in wooden packing and shipping material. It was first detected in Detroit, Michigan in 2002. The Ash Borer was first found in Nashville in 2014.

“To property owners, these trees are ticking time bombs,” said J.T. Cunningham of Grassland Horticulture. “Ash wood is particularly hard and relatively light compared to other hardwoods. It’s the titanium of wood and is used to make baseball bats and axe handles. That’s what makes it so dangerous. When an ash tree dies, it becomes much more brittle than other trees, but it stays true to form, rarely dropping small limbs. What typically happens is a gust of wind comes along and breaks the tree at the trunk, causing devastation to whatever it happens to fall on. This scenario is happening every day in states north and east of Tennessee, causing millions of dollars in property damage, injury and several deaths.”

“There are only two options – treat the tree or cut it down,” said Cunningham, but a decision needs to be made quickly. The cost to treat an ash tree and save it is roughly 10 times cheaper than the cost of removal, so long as the tree is still alive. Because ash trees become so brittle when they die, tree companies can’t climb a dead ash, so specialized lift equipment is required for removal, driving the cost of removal up by nearly double.” Cunningham said they can treat a tree for 30 years before the cost of removal is approached and can save the tree, even if it’s already infested with the borer.

Grassland Horticulture is a plant health care company that specializes in plant pathology and the treatment of diseases and pests in shrubs and trees. The company has been on the front line of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) epidemic since is discovery in Nashville.

For more information about the EAB epidemic, including how to identify an ash tree, please visit: www.savemyashtree.com or call Grassland Horticulture at 615-595-8080,

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