‘It’ll be kind of a hands-on emergency’: Edmonton prepares to remove emerald ash borer upon arrival

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The City of Edmonton is preparing to combat the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle that would threaten the city’s ash trees.


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The city’s boulevards would be the most at risk, with green ash trees making up nearly two-thirds of the trees on Edmonton’s boulevard, says Mike Jenkins, the city’s pest control coordinator. He added that there are green ash trees in some private residences, but the city does not have a complete inventory to know how many.

Jenkins said the emerald ash borer is yet to be found in Edmonton, but it made its way across North America and most recently to Winnipeg in 2017.

“It is moving more and more to the west,” he said in an interview with Postmedia. “We are preparing for it, but we hope that when it appears it will be a kind of hands-on emergency and we will have to improve many of the activities we do, once it is detected. “

There aren’t many green ash trees in the Edmonton River Valley, Jenkins said. He said they are mostly planted trees, which gives them a good chance of detection and eradication if the beetle appears.


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The invasive species made its way from China to North America, beginning in 2005 in Detroit, Jenkins said. He said that the emerald ash borer can kill a tree quickly.

“It lays an egg in the bark of the tree and then the larvae basically crawl under the bark and develop under the bark layer for probably at least two years,” Jenkins said. “In that process, as they feed under the bark, they actually end up severing the vascular system of the tree.”

Jenkins said that if enough beetle larvae develop on a tree, they can cut off enough of the vascular system and kill the tree by preventing nutrients from the leaves from reaching the rest of the cut tree.

The beetles can kill a tree in one to three years, and Jenkins said it could have unintended consequences.


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“Once the tree is dead, it becomes more fragile,” he said. “Things like windstorms will blow branches and even entire branches off trees, so these standing dead trees become quite a disadvantage.”

He said that in Detroit it even caused branches to fall on cars.

The emerald ash beetle does not have a native enemy in North America, however, Jenkins said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun testing and is now releasing some parasitic wasps that were native to the range. native of the beetle in China. He said that if the wasps become established in the eastern US and Canada, they can help reduce the amount of mortality caused by the ash borer.

Neither the emerald ash borer nor parasitic wasps are found in Edmonton at this time, Jenkins said. As of now, there are traps and lures installed in conjunction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Jenkins encourages people not to import firewood from other jurisdictions because invasive species could be transported to Edmonton with that delivery, speeding up their arrival.

“That is where we are particularly concerned. It could easily arrive with a load of firewood and be released and established in Edmonton without having to fly, ”Jenkins said, adding that Dutch elm disease and other invasive species like the European spruce beetle could also be imported via firewood. .

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