Program on emerald ash borer draws a concerned crowd
JANESVILLE A presentation about an insect resulted in a standing room-only crowd at the Rock County Courthouse on Monday afternoon.
Of course, the insect in question was the emerald ash borer, the scourge that already has killed millions of ash trees in the Midwest.
The ash borer was found in Janesville about two weeks ago, leaving local officials scrambling and homeowners worried.
More than 60 people showed up to the session run by Mike Maddox, UW Extension horticulture educator.
The session reviewed the basics about the beetle's history and spread. A video from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources showed people how to identify ash trees, signs and symptoms of ash borer infestation and what they can do to help.
After the video, Maddox was faced with a room full of worried homeowners. Their major concerns included how, when and if to treat their ash trees.
The how and when were easiest to answer: Ideally, trees should be treated in the spring with a product containing imidacloprid.
Treatments applied mid-summer might have a residual affect, but for the "best bang for your buck," a spring treatment is recommended.
But Maddox stressed that nothing should be put down now because of drought conditions.
Should all trees be treated?
That's up to the homeowner, Maddox said. If the tree is healthy, provides good shade value and is a family treasure, then yes, you might want to consider saving it.
Keep in mind, you'll have to continue treating it every year.
After the meeting, participants milled around displays of informational handouts, emerald ash borers in alcohol solutions and bark samples featuring the pest damage. Many of them carried leaf samples.
"I'm worried about losing my tree," Darlene Freeburg said.
She has a large ash tree in her yard that provides a significant amount of shade.
Freeburg has seen bark damage in her tree, but she thinks it's squirrels, not the bark loss associated with ash borers.
Colleen Cummins lives a few blocks from where emerald ash borers were found in Janesville. She has two large ash trees in her yard.
She's contemplating what to do next.
Maddox stressed that people have some time.
"You don't have to decide what to do in the next three to five days," he said.
Experts think the infected Janesville tree they found two weeks ago had ash borers for about three years.
ASH BORER BASICS
What: The emerald ash borer is an invasive pest imported from China that has killed millions of ash trees in the Midwest and Canada.
Where: The ash borer was found in Janesville about two weeks ago.
Prevention and treatment: If a tree is not seriously infected or not infected at all, it can be given a preventative treatment with a product containing imidacloprid. The treatment usually is done in the spring. It must be repeated every year to be effective.
The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the state Department of Natural Resources are asking campers to not move firewood from one area to another. This helps slow the spread of the disease.
Disposal of infected trees: Infected trees that have been cut down cannot be disposed of in the traditional way. The city of Janesville is working on a disposal plan, an official said at Monday's meeting.
Quarantine: The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is expected to issue quarantines for Rock and Walworth counties within the next few weeks. That means hardwood firewood—no matter what species—cannot be moved outside the quarantine area. Quarantines have been imposed in Brown, Crawford, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Vernon, Washington and Waukesha counties.