Trees in Trouble

by Nancy Rose
August 17, 2015

street trees

Trees in Trouble

adult emerald ash borer

An adult emerald ash borer.

What happens when a city’s trees are devastated? We tend to take the leafy canopy above our yards and streets for granted, but when it disappears it takes a major financial and emotional toll. Substantial loss of trees often results from severe natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes, but insects can also be deadly to trees. Some native insects can certainly cause serious defoliation and damage to trees, but several of the biggest devastations in recent years have been caused by non-native insects such as the emerald ash borer and Asian long-horned beetle. Native insect pests are often kept in check by other native insects but imported pests often face no foes, allowing them to multiply and spread rapidly.
Asian long-horned beetle adult

An adult Asian long-horned beetle.

The Asian long-horned beetle (ALB) has been an especially devastating pest, requiring the removal of thousands of trees in cities where it has been found, including Worcester, Massachusetts. These large black and white beetles mature and emerge from trees in late summer, so August has been declared “Tree Check Month” by the USDA. For a detailed account of Worcester’s experience with ALB and replanting efforts in its wake, read forester Mollie Freilicher’s Arnoldia 69/1, 2011 article from a few years ago.

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