Time has really run out for Mark Cullen and his Anti Pesticide Rhetoric.
Nematodes for Grubs (reduces grub population by only 30% at best), Marginal Control at Best
Treeazin for Ash Trees (costs as much to treat a tree as to cut it down)
Merit – Imidacloprid (now banned in Ontario, available in Quebec) is an excellent Pesticide that controls Grubs and Ash Tree Borers, the cost is a fraction of the price TreeAzin is and much more effective. Why have we banned it???????
Watching our trees die and lawns being torn up is travesty.
Why would Mark Cullen Support this?
We need to stand up against the Ministry of the Environment and people like Mark Cullen.
Time has nearly run out for our ash trees
The clock is ticking on the ash trees in the GTA. Within the next three to five years, all of the untreated ash will be history. The emerald ash borer (EAB) has crept up here from the mid-western United States, after having arrived there about 15 years ago from Asia. It begins its nasty work very quickly, gnawing its way under the bark of ash (all Fraxinus species), until they are dead.
In Toronto, our tree canopy consists of about 8 per cent ash; most of the 905 area is between 8 and 10 per cent, while in Ottawa the total number of ash represents over 20 per cent. Ouch! No matter where you live in southern Ontario, EAB is one big pain.
It was a year ago that I first wrote about the emerald ash borer problem in the Star. At the time, many readers were shocked to learn the extent and the severity of the infestation. Many were also keen to learn more about the treatment and control methods for the borer. It is time for an update.
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WHAT HAS CHANGED IN A YEAR?
Over the span of the past year, I have been impressed by the changes that have occurred in many municipalities with regards to the EAB problem. I have no doubts that this is due to the increased attention that the issue has received in the press, the resulting rise in interest on the part of concerned citizens, municipal employees responsible for urban trees, and the fact that more politicians have taken a keen interest.
Nevertheless, there are many questions that need to be answered. Here are the essential ones:
How pervasive is the emerald ash borer?
- All ash trees will be attacked. There are 22 species in Southern Ontario, but the most common are white and black ash. It is expected that the EAB will be most active in the GTA over the next three to five years, at which time it is anticipated that the problem insects will have moved on and/or died out due to a lack of food sources.
- How effective is the treatment for EAB (TreeAzin)?
- Unlike Dutch elm disease, which killed virtually all of the American elm trees that lined our streets in the 1960s and early ’70s, the EAB can be controlled using TreeAzin, a “biologically based” liquid that is injected into the tree by licensed professionals. TreeAzin is a derivative of the neem tree, a native of southeast Asia. Neem is popular as a plant shine and used for control of the lily beetle on oriental lilies.
- How much does it cost and how often is it applied?
- The cost of treatment for an average mature-sized ash of 40 centimetres diametre, measured at 1.2 metres high, is between $250 and $300 per tree/per treatment. The cost has come down over the last year by about 25 per cent.
- How and when is it applied?
- It is injected into the tree near its base any time from June through August. The tree “takes the product up” through the rise in sap that occurs naturally. I recommend that you treat ash before you see damage as the tree is best able to take up the TreeAzin product while healthy. Under normal circumstances, a tree will need to be treated every two years, three or four times for effective control. Total cost is between $800 and $1,200. Note that cutting and replacing a mature ash will run you about the same amount of money, perhaps more.
- How effective is it in the long term?
- While TreeAzin has only been registered with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (like all registered pesticides) for less than 10 years, test treatments have indicated that permanent control of the EAB is possible with the recommended three or four applications. According to Joe Meating, the president of BioForest, the Canadian company that produces and distributes TreeAzin, it is believed “that the ash borer will have moved on or died out after the third or fourth treatment (six to eight years) as fewer trees will be alive to host the insect.”
- How do I know that my tree is a good candidate for treatment?
- If the tree in question is growing on private land, I recommend that you get a professional opinion. For a list of recommended TreeAzin applicators, go to yourleaf.org and check out the list under the “Resources” tab. If the tree is growing on municipal property (like a boulevard tree that may be located at the front of your house or on your street), I recommend that you contact the urban tree or parks department in your municipality.
- If I wish to have an ash tree treated that is growing on public land, how do I go about this?
- As of today, every municipality in the GTA and Ottawa has an established policy regarding the issue. They have budgets for the treatment of valuable ash and for removal and replacement in the case of the untreated specimens on public land. Every municipality is approaching the issue differently and with various degrees of aggression. The most ambitious treatment program is in Oakville, where the goal is to save more than 80 per cent of the ash tree canopy. Other municipalities are shooting for a save rate of less than 5 per cent of the trees on public property. There is a clear disparage here.
- What kind of tree should I consider replacing ash with?
- If we have learned anything at all from this, it is this: our urban forest will benefit most and serve future generations better with greater species diversification. So the answer is not as straightforward as “plant sugar maples” since your situation may be more appropriate for other species. I do encourage you to consider making a selection from the broad selection of native trees available. I do not advocate that a native tree is suitable for every situation, but we definitely need to plant more than we have in the past. An excellent list of native trees and flowering shrubs is offered on the Leaf website (yourleaf.org/species-available). A visit to your local garden centre can be useful. Talk to a qualified professional about your location, exposure to sun, soil quality, drainage, and your own wishes to make an informed decision.
- How do we avoid another problem like this in future?
- I can almost guarantee that there will be another pest or disease that will wreak havoc on our tree population in future. History tells us that we should be on the lookout for it. My answer to this question is the same answer as the last one. Diversification. A good defence is a good offence. Or something like that.
- Where do I go for more information?
- The City of Toronto has published an excellent handbook titled “Emerald Ash Borer.” You can access it online at toronto.ca/trees/eab.htm. Whether you live in Toronto or not, the information is useful. If you live in another municipality, call your city hall or access its website. Most are working hard on their communication programs now.
I encourage you to talk with your local city councillor and to your neighbours. Smart people are rallying around this issue to raise awareness and money to save whole streets of ash from the chop-chop. This is your chance to lead and make a very big difference.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Skunks are digging up my lawn every night. How do I stop the damage?
A: Raccoons and skunks are digging in lawns to feed on grubs. Once the soil temperature is above 10C, you can apply beneficial nematodes to control the grub population. I use Green Earth Grub Busters.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster and garden editor of Reno and Decor magazine. You can sign up for his free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com, and watch him on CTV Canada AM every Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. You can reach Mark through the “contact” button on his website and follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and Facebook. Mark’s latest book, Canadian Lawn & Garden Secrets, is available at Home Hardware and all major bookstores.