An invasive species which has wrought havoc on Ash trees in New York and the Northeast is still present.
According to Patrick Marren, New York State DEC forester, an infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle is present in Randolph, and residents should be vigilant about practices which discourage the beetle's prevalence.
"About 3 miles out from the initial infestation, we're starting to see some dead trees," Marren said. "However, most of the mortality is occurring at that initial spot. Randolph was the first site in New York where an Emerald Ash Borer Beetle infestation was spotted, and as a result, that initial infestation management was treated with urgency, but the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle is very prolific."
Marren said the cause of the infestation in Randolph is unknown, but it very well could have been the result of human activity. The DEC has instituted a quarantine in the infected and surrounding areas, and has promoted a public awareness campaign for several years about the importance of not moving firewood.
"(Not moving firewood) is still a very big component of the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle management," Marren said. "However, it is important to note that the firewood campaign is bigger than just the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle. Other insects and diseases can be spread by moving firewood, so that's a concern for us. Moving these insects and diseases around can infect areas that are currently not infected, and we have the regulations to restrict the movement of untreated firewood no more than 50 miles from its source."
According to Marren, abiding by such regulations is absolutely paramount.
So far, the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of trees, ranging from Michigan, where the infestation started, across the northeast, including here in Western New York.
Currently, the DEC is searching for ways to control the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle population, and with hope, one day destroy it.
"We don't have a full body of knowledge yet to know what happens long term with these infestations," Marren said. "We're hopeful that chemical treatment options and ... parasitoids that can help keep the population in check, such as wasps that prey upon the beetle - and continuing research may be able to bring the ash population back."
Marren said there are signs that residents can watch for, such as unusually high woodpecker activity around ash trees.
"The woodpeckers feed on the mature larva and the pupa that are still living underneath the bark on the tree," said Marren. "When we see an increase in woodpecker activity, it could indicate a large Emerald Ash Borer Beetle nearby."
There are several websites that Marren recommended residents look at if they are interested in learning how to identify which trees are ash trees and if a tree is infected. Those websites include: www.dec.ny.gov and emeraldashborer.info. Additionally, Marren said that there are options for homeowners who think the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle could affect them.
"There are treatment options available for homeowners who wish to protect and save individual trees," Marren said. "Those are best done working with a qualified arborist or tree service company. They've shown to be very effective in both preventing infestation and managing trees that are slightly infested. Those homeowners can get treatment recommendations off of nyis.info. That will show how close you live to an infested area, and offer recommendations as to whether you should be treating or not."