ITHACA, N.Y. –– The City of Ithaca Parks and Forestry Division sent out a memo Tuesday afternoon warning residents with ash trees to be advised of an Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation in the community, and to take immediate action in order to protect their trees and the rest of their property.

The EAB is an invasive pest that eats the tissue just beneath the bark of ash trees and will eventually cause tree death. According to their memo, EAB has been in the area “for a few years now,” multiplying the population, and that ash trees in the area are beginning to show “a decline in health and vigor due to the insect.”

Many ash trees line Ithaca city streets, and staff are managing the infestation in city owned trees.

However, some neighborhoods and private residences have have large ash trees spanning over multiple backyards that are showing signs of EAB infestation. Because the city has no ownership of those trees, they are asking residents who have an ash tree on their land to take immediate action in order to protect the tree and prevent against damage the dead tree could cause to the rest of their property.

According to the city, completely dead trees are more hazardous and generally more expensive to remove than trees that still have life in them. Dead trees can become home to multiple pests, and additionally pose the risk of falling and causing damage to a home, or injury to the homeowner.

Signs that an ash tree is infested with EAB includes thin canopy or dead branches in the top and center of the canopy. There will also likely be woodpecker damage, called “blonding” where sections of bark take on a light blonde color (as opposed to the normal gray color) due to woodpeckers’ excavation to find EAB larva under the bark.

Lightly infested ash trees can be treated with pesticides that will kill the insects and help to preserve the tree. However, pesticide applications can be costly and the pesticides will need to be reapplied periodically as the pests can persist for a decade or more. The city recommends contacting a certified pesticide applicator if you choose this option.

The other option to consider is removal of the infested trees.

An ash tree identification guide can be found here.

If you have a question about whether the tree in your yard is an ash, you can contact the Parks and Forestry office and they can confirm tree species through photos (leaf, twig and bark) or a site visit if necessary. Please contact the Forestry Technician, Kevin Vorstadt at  kvorstadt@cityofithaca.org.

Featured image courtesy of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com