What will we lose if the ash trees of Vermont are driven to extinction by the emerald ash borer?
People often associate our forests with the iconic sugar maples and white pines. But Vermont’s three species of the ash (Fraxinus), which comprise about 5% of Vermont’s trees, also provide important wildlife, economic and cultural values. The green, white and black ash aren’t easy for a novice to tell apart. The ash borer, an invasive insect from Asia, attacks them all.
The ash borer is bright green beetle about a third of an inch long that kills trees during its larval stage by eating the inner bark. It is also attacking another US native, fringetree, (Chionanthus virginicus) which is not found in Vermont.)
The ash borer showed up in Michigan in 2002 and was found in Vermont early this year for the first time in Orange County. The evidence so far suggests that the borer arrived here several years ago and has already spread to several counties, a common emergence pattern.