Ash kicking in Guildwood

The Emerald Ash Borer, a tiny green beetle-like insect, is making trouble for residents in the Scarborough area.

Infested ash trees have been seen in the Morningside Avenue and Sheppard Avenue area, as well as in the vicinity of Kingston Road and Galloway Road, according to Ward 43 councillor Paul Ainslie’s website.

Unfortunately there is no known way to prevent the current infestation from spreading further among the 26,000 ash trees in the Guildwood Village area, the site says.

It is believed that the borer arrived in Windsor, Ont., from Asia in 2002. Richard Ubbens, Toronto director of urban forestry services, has been tracking the bug’s movement in Ontario for over three years and fears the infestation may continue to worsen.

“That’s the problem with this insect: you don’t see infestation signs very easily,” Ubbens said. “Chances are, when you do see it, it’s already well established in the area.”

Residents with ash trees are advised to look for signs of infestation. The first signs are leaves dying from the top of the tree  and v-shaped holes in the bark. But, as the insect’s larvae infest the tree from within, noticing these signs often proves to be too little too late, Ubbens said.

The borer population of is growing exponentially but steps are being taken to eradicate the infestation., he said. The City of Toronto is doing what it can to prevent the infestation from spreading.

According to a statement about the infestation on Ainslie’s website, the city has registered an insecticidal substance, TreeAzin, to inject into ash trees. While it has shown some effectiveness, it comes with a hefty price tag of $250 per tree, which makes the infestation that much more problematic for local residents.

Ubbens says further research is needed in order to stop the infestation from spreading quickly.

In the meantime, residents may help the spread without realizing it, he said.

“The worst thing in the world right now is that we speed up the spread of this unknowingly through the spread of firewood. People are moving firewood all the time, and that’s not a wise thing to do at all.”

If residents with ash trees on their property notice an infestation, they are asked to call their local arborist or forestry official.

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