Posted By CHRISTINE ENDICOTT, QMI AGENCY
Posted 2 hours ago
A local biologist and garden centre manager says there’s a way to prevent the emerald ash borer from killing most of the region’s ash trees.
Counties officials expect the little green beetle, discovered by federal officials late last month near Mallorytown, will destroy most ash trees in Leeds-Grenville over the next 15 years.
Maria Breton says that can be prevented by filling in the trunk’s cracks with pruning paste or plain white latex paint, diluted five parts water to one part paint.
Breton, who holds a Bachelor of Science in plant physiology from Brock University and has 40 years of experience working with plants, said the mass cutting of ash trees in southern Ontario could have been prevented.
Breton suggests painting a 46-inch section of the tree, starting about 10 inches up from the ground, since the insects do not infest the root area, she said.
“Most bugs, when they come, they will migrate up. This deters them.”
The paint gets into holes where the pupae are living and boring into the tree, slowly killing it, she said. The ash eventually dies because the tree is chewed away, but by sealing the fractured section of trunk, Breton said, the tree can be saved.
“Most trees will heal themselves,” she said.
“I have tried it on a couple of trees and it has worked. It’s cheap. You can even just get half a quart of paint, dilute it, and use a clean, sterilized brush so you don’t transfer anything.”
Breton suggests painting a swath around each tree twice a year, early in April and in October or November, “after freeze-up.”
In the Toronto area, some people have used teatree oil instead of latex paint with similar results, she added.
Breton said Monday she believes the ash borer has been around at least three years.
How do you know that your ash tree has been infested? Sawdust near its base indicates a borer, she said.
Also, if the tree appears unhealthy, with curling leaves, it’s a good time to check if there are the telltale D-shaped boring holes or visible green beetles.
Breton does not suggest using chemicals to kill borers or other pests.
Michigan State University researchers reported that using an emamectin benzoate-based pesticide, developed by the Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta and the Massachusetts firm Arborjet, kills all of the Asian insect’s adult beetles and 99.7% of its larvae but Breton said people today rely too heavily on chemicals.
“We really are fast-food gardeners,” she said. “We have gotten used to this instant solution in a can. I advocate the environmental way.”
Breton concurs with United Counties forest manager Geoff McVey that the emerald ash borer could eventually kill all the ash trees in the region.
“Don’t go into panic mode,” she said. “If plants are stressed, it will become a wildfire, but by taking action, you can prevent it from spreading.”
McVey, the counties forest manager who has been communicating with the federal inspection agency, said he is unfamiliar with the method and wonders, if it works, why the many scientists investigating the ash borer have not suggested it.
“I never heard tell of painting a tree to keep insects out,” he said.
“I can’t imagine that something so simple would not have been found by people looking for a way to stop the insects since 2002.”