Crews learn to identify emerald ash borer, experts says Winnipeg's ash tree days numbered

Crews learn to identify emerald ash borer, experts says Winnipeg's ash tree days numbered

A highly destructive invasive species of beetle is on the move in Winnipeg. The city confirms it’s discovered emerald ash borer infestation inside three trees in the Archwood neighbourhood.

On Wednesday people from Natural Resources Canada and the City of Winnipeg’s forestry department put on a demonstration to show how crews identify trees with emerald ash borer.

They shave down the bark and look for galleries, where larva of the insect eats and moves. In the springtime, larvae develop into beetles which can fly and infest other trees.

So far the city has collected branches from 29 trees in Archwood. In the weeks to come, that will expand to around 300 samples from different parts of the city.

Forest ecologist entomologist Krista Ryall came to Winnipeg from Toronto to help crews identify infested trees. She said Winnipeg’s ash tree days are numbered.

“We see that it spreads about a couple of kilometers a year. That would be a very rough estimate, but typically within a municipality that didn’t have those tools and techniques within a decade everything is dead,” said Ryall.

By identifying which trees have the beetle the city is able to learn how the infestation is spreading and which trees need to come down to slow the destruction.

Darrel Unrau lives one of Cote Street, one of the streets where crews found an infested tree. He appreciates ash trees and doesn’t want to see them go.

“They give you shade. They give you privacy. They give you everything,” he said.

The city estimates there are more than 350,000 ash trees on private and public property in Winnipeg.

It says one way to help replenish the impending loss of canopy may be for homeowners to plant trees.

“If they have ash trees, I think it’s time to start considering that so take inventory of the trees on your property, determine what you have,” said city forester Martha Barwinsky.

Barwinsky said the die off could be slowed by injecting trees with an insecticide, but the city hasn’t decided on that course of action yet.

Experts say homeowners can also do their part by not moving firewood. It’s one way the beetle moves from one location to another.

If homeowners are concerned about a tree on their property, they can call 311. If they’re thinking about planting a tree to replace an ash tree, ‘Trees Winnipeg’ is a suggested resource.

Published at Wed, 17 Jan 2018 20:45:55 -0500