Traps set up to track ash borer infestation

Another breed of creepy crawlers has been spotted in trees across the southern Capital Region.

Another breed of creepy crawlers has been spotted in trees across the southern Capital Region.

The emerald ash borer, a native of Asia, was first found in the U.S. in southeastern Michigan in 2002. They gradually spread east to New York state, reaching Cattaraugus County in 2009, and have since gotten all the way to the Hudson Valley.

According to Chris Logue, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Schenectady County, there are no confirmed infestations of emerald ash borers in Schenectady County, but there are active infestations in southeast Albany County, Greene County and Ulster County.

In an attempt to monitor unaffected areas near known infestations, environmental personnel from various organizations, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Agriculture and Markets, and Cornell Cooperative Extension, placed thousands of purple prism traps across the state beginning this May.

The traps, which have an adhesive surface and are made with a pheromone to attract the insects, are part of the DEC’s Slow Ash Mortality initiative. Many times, an infestation is active but not visible and these traps are the first step in the detection and investigation necessary to protect ash trees, a prominent feature of the state’s landscape.

The insects are a serious threat to ash trees, which make up 7 percent of all trees in New York state and are especially prevalent in urban and suburban areas, according to the DEC.

Logue said early detection of infestations will help stop the spread. The removal of dead trees and insecticidal treatments of trees surrounding those infected has proven effective, but he stresses the importance of reporting suspicious-looking trees to local environmental personnel.

An emerald ash borer workshop is planned at the Extension office in Voorheesville at 11 a.m. June 25. Mark Whitmore, a forest entomologist at Cornell University, will provide the most updated information about the insects as well as ways to protect trees.

Following the talk, Extension staff will take attendees to a site in Bethlehem to see an infestation firsthand. The workshop, which is free and open to the public, will focus on controlling infestations in municipalities, where homeowners would be greatly affected.

Chuck Schmitt, senior resource educator of Albany County Extension, said that because of the liability that dead and dying trees create for towns and the cost of removal, education is extremely important. “We’re trying to slow [ash borers] down because we can’t stop the infestation at this point. We want to work for manageable tree removal and budgeting so it isn’t a problem for towns and villages or taxpayers,” he said.

Currently, 20 counties south of the state Thruway are under a quarantine that prohibits the movement of any ash logs outside of the area, according to the DEC. Emerald ash borers have been confirmed in 15 counties across the state as of May 15. Infected trees may have small, D-shaped holes in their trunks, as well as canopy dieback and yellowing. The CCE urges homeowners with ash trees on their property to make plans for when the insects arrive in their areas.

More information about the insects as well as how to report a sighting can be found on the New York invasive species website —

Categories: Schenectady County

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