Beating the emerald ash borer

Smitty’s employees are trained to battle invasive pest

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Certified arborist Jaime Brinkman, with Smitty’s Lawn and Landscape, shows a tool that is used to help treat trees that are infested with emerald ash borer.

Over the past several years, the emerald ash borer has been wreaking havoc among ash trees in not only Fort Dodge, but across the state of Iowa.

An invasive pest originally from Asia, the emerald ash borer burrows into ash trees, where it can eventually lead to the tree’s death.

But the team at Smitty’s Lawn and Landscape, 2305 Second Ave. N., is now well-equipped to deal with any trees that are infested with the beetle.

Recently, Smitty’s employees underwent training in how to treat trees that the emerald ash borer has been detected in.

Jaime Brinkman, a certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture, said there is quite a bit that she and other Smitty’s employees can do when it comes to treating ash trees that are exhibiting symptoms of the borer.

-Submitted photo
Staff members from Smitty’s Lawn and Landscape undergo training on how to treat trees that have been infested with emerald ash borer.

One of Smitty’s suppliers from Des Moines trained the staff in treatment.

“It’s an injection system for the tree,” Brinkman said. “So they trained us on how to set the plugs and do the math for the chemical that goes into the tree.”

They also tested the chemical on trees to get some hands-on experience.

The chemical has a dual purpose; it’s preventative and curative.

“They have shown really good results in treating a tree that has already been infested and helping it recover,” she said. “And a lot of times the emerald ash borer is in the tree for several years before wee actually see symptons. It’s very likely it’s here before we’re really seeing it.”

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Certified arborist Jaime Brinkman, with Smitty’s Lawn and Landscape, gives A closer look at the tool used to treat trees.

Brinkman explained that it’s not the adults that damage the tree, but rather the emerald ash borer larvae.

“The adult will bore into the tree and it will lay its larvae, which then disrupts the cambium layer of the tree, which is where all the water and nutrients are being transported to the tree,” she said. “And that’s why it’s so destructive.”

Adult ash borers are about the size of a penny, Brinkman said.

It’s unclear exactly how the emerald ash borer ended up in Iowa, but Brinkman said some think it may have been inside wood that was being transported within the state.

There are a number of symptoms for the emerald ash borer that people with ash trees should be aware of. One of them is what’s known as “flecking.”

“Woodpeckers like to get in there and get the borers that are in the tree,” Brinkman said. “And they strip the bark in long strips and leave kind of a creamy white underbark showing.”

Other symptoms include a thinning of the tree’s canopy and shoots being found near the bottom of the tree.

It is possible to save ash trees that the emerald ash borer has infested, but Brinkman said it can only be saved if the infestation is caught early.

If someone suspects they have an emerald ash borer infestation, Brinkman said to consult with an arborist on what the best approach may be. She said some people will treat the tree immediately, others will wait, and others will just have the tree removed.

“We can advise and consult on the best approach for your property,” she said. “And then we can actually treat the trees as well.”

If left untreated, the emerald ash borer can have devastating effects on not only the tree, but neighborhoods where the trees exist as well.

“As trees decilne, they decline really quickly and they become hazardous to remove,” she said. “So it could become very costly to the homeowner, whcih has an impact on our community.”

As people become more aware of the emerald ash borer, Brinkman said Smitty’s is starting to receive more phone calls about them.

“I think the emerald ash borer is something that is starting to be talked about more in the community,” she said, adding that’s good because it means homeowners can become more educated on how to handle a possible infestation.


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