EAB: Frequently Asked Questions

Blog Category: Tree Care
April 30, 2015 by Wright Outdoor Solutions
emerald ash borer symptoms identification

With all the buzz about emerald ash borer (EAB) in Iowa, we know you have questions about what you should do, ash tree identification and more. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about EAB so that you can make the most educated decision about your ash trees. When you are ready to take the next step for your ash tree, give our arborists a call at 515.987.0800 or request a quote online.

If you still are skeptical about the damage EAB can cause, visit www.emeraldashborer.info to find an interactive map that catalogs the destruction in its wake.

ash tree branch buds from ISU

Ash trees have opposite branching and compound leaflets. Photo courtesy of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Q: How do I identify an ash tree?

A: A few key factors help easily identify an ash tree. Two unique features of an ash tree are opposite branching and compound leaves. Opposite branching simply means branches grow opposite of each other along the tree; whereas most trees have alternative branching. A compound leaf is when more than one leaflet shares a bud at its stem base. Typically, ash trees have around five to nine leaflets per leaf.

Fun fact: Opposite branching occurs most commonly in maple, ash, dogwood and horse chestnut trees.

Q: As a homeowner with an identified ash tree, what are my options?

A: You have two options – either treat the ash tree with insecticide or remove it. Doing nothing is not recommended. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of if the tree will be affected, but rather when.

IMG_4224 edited

Serpentine pattern underneath the bark.

Q: How does EAB damage ash trees?

A: EAB causes significant damage to native American ash trees. The damage is caused by larval feeding in a serpentine pattern underneath the bark. This prevents the ash tree from transporting much needed nutrients throughout the tree to the leaves. In response to the damaged tissue, the tree will sprout new branches. Essentially, the vascular system of the tree becomes damaged leaving the tree unable to hydrate itself. The canopy will begin to decline because the leaves are not receiving adequate water. Eventually, the bark will split where there is dead vascular tissue. Ultimately, the tree will die. The higher the EAB population, the more quickly trees can die. A small tree may die within one to two years of becoming infested whereas a large tree has a window of three to four years.

Q: How much will it cost to remove my tree?

A: The cost to cut down a tree or to treat the tree depends on size. Removing the tree is more costly at one time as opposed to a chemical treatment. Another factor to consider is the length of time the tree will need to be treated. Wright Outdoor Solutions uses a chemical called TREE-äge which is effective for up to two full growing seasons. Unfortunately, no one knows how long ash trees will need to be treated if that route is chosen.

Q: What chemical treatment options do I have?

A: TREE-äge is the most effective chemical treatment available to treat EAB, lasting at least two years. Applied similarly to an IV, TREE-äge is a preventive treatment, and it can cure minimally infested trees. The photo above shows what it looks like as we treat an ash tree with TREE-äge. The amount of time it takes to treat the tree depends on how quickly the tree can absorb the chemical due to temperature, moisture and other factors, but typically the process takes less than a few hours.

Soil drenching is another option, but this method is much less effective and must follow strict restrictions. Homeowners can apply the chemical at home, but there are specific limits regarding the maximum amount of insecticide that can be applied per acre during a given year. This also restricts the number of trees that can be treated in a given area. The exact limitation can be found on the label of the product. This treatment puts pollinators, like bees, at risk.

Q: When can I treat my ash tree?

A: Trees can be treated between mid-April and mid-October and possibly even longer if the moisture in the soil is ample. When an ash tree’s leaves begin to change color, we cease performing injections as the tree has stopped (or slowed) its water uptake. The water uptake is vital to carrying the preventive insecticide into the woody fiber of the tree.

In 2014 when EAB was confirmed in some of Des Moines’ closest counties (Jasper, Boone, Story), Wright Outdoor Solutions performed thousands of preventive treatments and removals. The longer the process for treatment or removal is stalled, the more costly it will become to the owner of the tree.

Q: I’ve decide to cut down my ash tree, now what do I plant in its place?

A: One common phrase in the arbor industry is to plant “the right tree in the right place.” We discussed many of the factors to consider when planting here. Wright Outdoor Solutions would be happy to help you decide what tree to plant.

The most important thing to remember is to plant diverse species. Remember, a red maple and a sugar maple are both maple trees. We never know what insect or disease will affect the tree line next; therefore diversification will help prevent future tree loss.

Q: Why should I choose Wright Outdoor Solutions to treat or remove my trees?

A: Hiring someone to care for your trees shouldn’t be taken lightly. Proper tree care can lead to substantial returns on your home or business investment. But if your trees are in the wrong hands, consequences can be dangerous.

That’s why hiring an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist is the right choice. Wright Outdoor Solutions is proud to be one of only a few tree care companies in the area that employ ISA Certified Arborists. In fact, we encourage all of our employees to become certified within their first year of employment. We have several ISA Certified Arborists and two ISA Board Certified Master Arborists on staff. And most importantly, they are trained to work safely in trees.

Hiring one of our ISA Certified Arborists is vital to ensuring your trees are in the best hands possible. We were also the first company in Iowa to become accredited by the Tree Care Industry Association. Safety is the highest concern at Wright Outdoor Solutions.

Q: How do I determine whether my tree is valuable enough to treat?

A: Trees add value to property, contribute to energy savings inside the home, provide shade, add beauty and much more. If you have an ash tree that is not yet affected, utilize the free National Tree Benefit Calculator is to help determine the value street-side trees add to property.

Do you have a question about your ash trees or anything else about your landscape? Leave us a note in the comments section below, and we’ll get an answer for you as soon as possible.