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Promoting Public Awareness Of Wildlife Habitats Through Environmental Education

Emerald Ash Borer Invades Simcoe County

By: Jelena Petrovic, Invasive Species Liaison- OFAH

 

The Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive forest pest, is working quickly to kill millions of ash trees in Ontario. The Emerald Ash Borer, originally from Asia, is rapidly spreading through southern and central Ontario and has the potential to wipe out in entire species of ash trees. This destructive insect has set its sights on Simcoe County as it moves north – dooming ash trees throughout the area. It was first detected in the Windsor area in 2002 where it continued to spread throughout southwestern Ontario, spreading as far as Toronto in 2007. Unfortunately, 100 million ash trees have already been killed or infested as this green beetle migrated north and east in Ontario. The beetle can move so quickly due to its ability to disperse several kilometres by flying and hitchhiking on transported wood material. It has been detected as far east as Ottawa and Frontenac County and travels as far north as Sault Ste. Marie. In 2013, infestations were confirmed in Simcoe County. Protecting our ash trees is critical to Simcoe County’s natural woodlots as, on average, 10% of woodlots are one of the five species of ash. All five native species of ash in Ontario are at risk of infestation and almost 100 per cent of individuals will succumb to the pest.

 

The Emerald Ash Borer will attack both healthy and stressed ash trees and begins when a female deposits her eggs in the bark of the tree. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed under the bark of the tree damaging it’s vascular system and interfering with the movement of nutrients and water. The Emerald Ash Borer’s pathway is recognizable by the S-shaped feeding galleries that cause vertical cracks in tree trunks. In the spring, the larvae will go through a pupal stage; then about 28 days later, the adult form will have developed and they will chew D-shaped exit holes in the bark of the ash tree. The Emerald Ash Borer is effective in killing ash trees this way and it is crucial to prevent the spread of this invasive species by not moving wood material to a new area, purchasing firewood locally and burning on site.

 

Since the sighting of Emerald Ash Borers on Manitoulin Island, movement restrictions on ash material such as logs, branches and wood chips from affected sites have been put in place. Simcoe County employees have installed 60 traps in strategic locations throughout the Barrie and Orillia area to detect the movement of these devastating beetles. Keep an eye out for triangular, neon green, sticky traps that can be found in any of our local provincial parks (Mara, McRae, and Bass Lake). The County of Simcoe says the insect is attracted to these traps and will stick to it; therefore, they were able to monitor the traps in July for sightings and they will again check at the end of August. The easiest way to prevent the spread of this invasive pest is to not move firewood any substantial distance. The further you move firewood the faster the beetle can spread and the more trees they can destroy. Once this beetle is found in a tree is it usually too late, although a liquid chemical exists that can be injected into the tree as an attempt to save it. The emerald ash borer has not been seen in Orillia yet, but it is only a matter of time. Due to its detrimental impact, it is crucial that we keep our eyes peeled for this species and report any sightings to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources at 1-800-667-1940 or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at 1-800-442-2342.