Emerald Ash Borer Makes Destructive Debut in St. Louis

Brett Blume (@brettblumekmox)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The destructive Emerald Ash Borer has made its long-dreaded arrival in St. Louis.

An Ameren work crew cutting back trees along power lines first noticed the tell-tale signs in the Walnut Park Neighborhood not long ago.

Mark Grueber, with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says this follows the discovery of the ash borer in St. Charles County in 2014, and now that it’s here, the tiny, bright metallic green pest is dug in for good.

“And the problem is that it causes a 100 percent mortality rate in ash trees,” Grueber says. “So probably in seven to 10 years, we’re looking at all the ash trees in the landscape and in the woods being dead.”

According to another MDC spokesman, Rob Lawrence, the best thing people can do once the ash borer has arrived is try their best to limit its spread.

“The beetle tunnels under the bark of trees, and so when people move firewood around, this can easily spread them, and you wouldn’t know that it’s there,” Lawrence says. “It can also hitchhike on nursery stock, but the nursery industry is well-regulated, and they’re aware of this problem so they’re not moving ash nursery stock.”

Ash tree in St. Louis shows tunnels made by emerald ash borer larvae. (Photo courtesy of Ameren)

Ash tree in St. Louis shows tunnels made by emerald ash borer larvae. (Photo courtesy of Ameren)

According to experts, it is possible to try and protect healthy ash trees with ongoing pesticide treatments, but it is a costly and time-consuming process that should be limited to what home-owners consider “high-value” trees.

Trees need to be in good condition to benefit from treatment, as well.

Ash trees in poor condition for any reason or that aren’t integral to the landscape aren’t good candidates.

Only begin pesticide treatment if there is an infestation with 15 miles of your property.

“And even then, once they’re all gone, the pest isn’t going to go away,” warns Grueber. “The population level may drop, but it’s not going anywhere. So ash trees, for the short term at least, aren’t going to be around much longer.”

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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