- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - State and federal agriculture officials have confirmed the presence of the emerald ash borer in a Douglas County community southeast of Lawrence, and experts say there are few options for dealing with the invasive insect.

Ash borers already have caused widespread damage in other parts of the state, including in Kansas City, Kansas, where the ash tree population has been devastated along a historic stretch on the city’s main street.

“It’s just sickening what they can do to the ash trees,” said Marlin Bates, a horticulture agent with Kansas State University Extension in Douglas County.

Symptoms of infected trees left untreated start showing up within the first year or two, Bates told the Lawrence Journal-World (https://bit.ly/1LbOWVt ). The mortality rate for infected trees is 100 percent.

The Kansas and U.S. departments of agriculture confirmed the presence of the emerald ash borer in a tree in Eldora on Sept. 30. With the insect so close, it’s best to assume every ash tree in the county is in danger, Bates said.

“We always recommend that anybody within 15 miles of a known infestation should consider their tree at high risk of infestation,” he said. “That means people need to figure out what they want to do with their trees.”

Ash borers, which originated in East Asia, have been in Kansas since 2012 but never this close to Lawrence, Bates said.

The insects lay their eggs on the trees and, once the larvae start to hatch, they burrow into the tree’s vascular tissue and begin to feed, he said.

At first an infected tree’s leaves will start to thin, and the tree could be completely dead within four to five years, he said.

Insecticides are the best way to combat the insects, he said, but they’re not 100 percent effective and need to be applied nearly every year.

That means owners who want to try to save their trees are making a lifetime commitment, Bates said. Those who choose not to treat their trees are encouraged to remove them before they become infected to prevent the spread of the insects.

“If you have a tree that is affected and you permit it to stand there and die without doing anything at all, you’re perpetuating larger and larger populations throughout the years to exert pressure on your neighbors’ trees,” he said. “The responsible thing to do is to remove it and chip the wood.”

The city of Lawrence is trying to determine the best way to handle the impending infestation. Crystal Miles, horticulture manager for the city’s parks and recreation department, said there are more than 1,000 ash trees in Lawrence parks and right of ways.

Treating, removing and planting trees could cost the city as much as $90,000 a year, she said.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com


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