The New York state departments of Agriculture and Markets, and Environmental Conservation have confirmed the first-ever discovery of emerald ash borer in New York City. Forestry expert and Cornell Cooperative Extension associate Mark C. Whitmore works with professional land managers, state and federal agencies, government officials and concerned citizens to understand the issues and strategies for minimizing the impact of forest inspect pests like the emerald ash borer. He says the pest is especially dangerous in New York City and other urban environments because the insects compromise the strength of ash trees, which threatens public safety.
“Emerald ash borer is an insect that is not native to the U.S. The North American species of ash, which is an exclusive host, does not have any resistance to this insect. It was first recognized as a problem in the Detroit area in 2002, and it likely came over to the U.S. in wood packing material for auto parts from China in the early 1990s.
“This has been an issue in Upstate New York for years. The important thing about urban environments is that when ash trees are killed by emerald ash borer, they lose their tensile strength rapidly and fall down in chunks, which threatens public safety. The best preventative measure for New Yorkers is to not move firewood.
“Similar to other locations in New York and the Midwest, if you want to save your ash trees, you need to treat them with systemic insecticides. Ash is a wind pollinated species. Bees do not use their pollen, nor do ash have nectars to utilize as food.
“The ash tree is one of the most beloved street trees that we have. If we want to keep ash in general on the landscape, then we’re going to need to work hard to figure out how to control the ash borer and how to breed resistance into the species. Ash are amazing trees; it would be a tragedy to lose them.”