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Sewickley ash trees succumb to green beetle

Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

More than 10 years since first being discovered in the United States, the emerald ash borer continues to wreak havoc on ash trees in Pennsylvania and across the continent.

In Sewickley, borough Manager Kevin Flannery said several trees need to be removed because of infestation and destruction caused by the half-inch-long metallic-green beetle.

“It's sad we are starting to see four or five ash trees that are going to have to go,” Flannery said. “We've spent a lot of time and money trying to save them.”

Emerald ash borers feed on ash trees in North America. Millions of trees have been estimated to have been killed by the creature.

Its formal name is Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, or DCNR, reports the insect has been found in Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

In Windsor, Ontario, city leaders removed 6,000 public ash trees — or 9 percent of the city's urban tree canopy — after a 2002 discovery of the emerald ash borer, according to a community-management resource document on DCNR's website. The Windsor plan cost $4 million.

“By 2010, only an estimated 5 percent of ash trees were still alive, with most infested with (emerald ash borer),” the document said. “Over 1 million ash trees are estimated to have died in Windsor and surrounding Essex County, including most of the endangered pumpkin ash.”

In Sewickley, Flannery said borough staff continue watching the insect's effects on ash trees.

“It's kind of disappointing,” he said. “It's a shame because about five years before the emerald ash borer was known in Pennsylvania, we planted 47 beautiful ash trees on Chadwick Street.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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