September 30, 2014

Au Gres looks at spraying trees for ash borers

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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Au GRES — The Au Gres city council agreed to look into treating some of the city’s ash trees to protect them from the emerald ash borer during the council’s meeting July 17.

City Manager Pat Killingbeck said there are about 150 ash trees, split largely between the city campground and along US-23, that are either at risk of becoming infested and subsequently killed by the emerald ash borer, or are already fighting an infestation.

“Tawas and East Tawas are in the same (treatment) program,” Killingbeck said. “If you consider the trees worth saving then we should participate.”

The total cost of the treatment would be about $12,000 she said, which would come from the capital improvements budget.

“I don’t like the amount, but we spent a lot on planting trees,” Killingbeck said. “Plus the campground trees have been there a while, and it would be a shame to lose them. It also costs more to remove the dead trees than to treat them.”

The treatment would only last two or three years, Killingbeck said, but it would save the trees from the ash borer.

The emerald ash borer is an invasive species native to China, which was first detected in the U.S. in 2002. The beetle lays its eggs in the bark of ash trees, and when the larvae emerge they feed off of the tree. After only a few years at best, the ash tree is killed.

Michigan State University is researching the usage of the borer’s natural predators to control the population in the U.S. — microscopic wasps that target the borer’s larvae and eggs — but it will be years before results have come in, MSU entomologist Leah Bauer told the Independent in January.

In the meantime she suggested insecticide treatments, and said Jonathon Lelito of the Biological Control Center in Canton is taking requests to be a part of the research program.

Councilman Keith Edmonds supported treating the trees, but said he heard the most effective time to do it is in May and June. He wondered if the trees could wait to be treated, but Killingbeck said some of them are starting to show signs of infestation and may not be treatable by then. She added Tawas had not treated theirs yet, but still planned to do so this summer.

Edmonds said he did not want to spend that amount of money if it would not do any good.

The city council unanimously agreed to treat the trees, but only after researching the effectiveness of treating the trees at this point in the year. If it would be ineffective, then the treatment would wait until next spring.

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