March 28, 2011
BAY COUNTY, Mich. — A Bay County woman is coordinating a new program aimed at saving ash trees from the emerald ash borer.
“Ash trees, when they die, become very dangerous, very quickly,” said Alicia Wallace, coordinator of the Bay County Gypsy Moth Suppression Program. “Because unlike an elm tree and oak tree that dies, when ashes die, they become brittle and start falling apart, so large branches will fall off the tree.”
The emerald ash borer is about the size of a penny, but don't underestimate this little beetle. It can damage and eventually kill large North American ash trees.
But Bay Country has a way of fighting back with a new program that includes injecting trees with insecticides. This program could potentially save thousands of trees.
“It's a product that when you put it into the ash trees, it kills all life stages of the ash borer,” said Wallace. “It kills the babies; it kills the adults. It’s very effective and it will protect our trees.”
But it's also costly, at $250,000 to $350,000 per year, money coming from the gypsy moth suppression millage. The treatments to keep the trees safe at Veterans Memorial Park should be complete by June 15.
“It's a great tree and they add a lot of value to our community, so it’s important that we take care of them,” said Wallace.
Residents of Bay County can call Wallace at 989-895-4195 for free inspections to determine if an ash tree is infested with emerald ash borers.
The lastest tool involves emamectin benzoate, a product used successfully in Canada in preventing sea lice in farm-raised salmon. In the U.S., the same chemical is used in insecticide sprays for agricultural products. In both cases, the end product is fit for human consumption. Emamectin benzoate has broad spectrum control for both native and exotic pests.
Arborjet, Inc., working with Syngenta, a Swiss agrochemical company, used a 4 percent solution of this well known chemical (emamectin benzoate is already used in Syngenta’s Proclaim insecticide, and a similar product, avemectrin, is used in its Avid insecticide) and reformulated it to be used with their tree injection systems. Called TREE-äge, this new product already has emergency licensing in Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia and Ohio and it is pending in other EAB-infested states. It is in the EPA queue for full federal registration. It should now be available for purchase in registered states.