Emerald ash borer makes first appearance in Fredericton

·3 min read
Emerald ash borer makes first appearance in Fredericton
Arrival of beetle 'very bad news,' for Fredericton, says Mike Glynn, a forester with the city. (Mike Heenan/CBC - image credit)
Arrival of beetle 'very bad news,' for Fredericton, says Mike Glynn, a forester with the city. (Mike Heenan/CBC - image credit)

Fredericton foresters have been warning about the infamous emerald ash borer for years.

Now it's here.

"Unfortunately, we knew it was just a matter of time and here it is," said Mike Glynn, a forester with the City of Fredericton.

The invasive species that has destroyed millions of ash trees in North America was recently found in the Forest Hill area of Fredericton.

Glynn said it's possible the insect has been in that area for years, and crews are just discovering it now. He assumes the insect has made its way to other areas of the city, possibly a while ago.

"We haven't seen it yet but it doesn't mean it's not here."

In New Brunswick, the emerald ash borer was first spotted in Edmundston in 2018. It was found in Oromocto the following year.

What is it?

The emerald ash borer is a bright, metallic green beetle native to East Asia, that probably arrived in packaging in the 1990s, according to Natural Resources Canada. No natural predators on this continent, including woodpeckers, have been able to stop its spread.

The beetle lays eggs on the bark of the ash tree, and those eggs weave their way inside the tree, creating tunnels that vary in shape, including, zigzags and an "S" shape. The tunnels erode the ash tree's ability to feed.

Despite efforts to limit its spread with quarantines and pesticides, the emerald ash borer has already made its way through Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and into the Atlantic provinces.

The invasive beetle was found in Edmundston in 2018 and then in Oromocto the following year.
The invasive beetle was found in Edmundston in 2018 and then in Oromocto the following year.

On its own, an emerald ash borer only travels about 400 to 700 metres a year, but with people moving firewood from province to province, the ash borer can travel much farther.

Ash trees have limited resistance to stave off the insects, which can kill trees within one to four years of infestation.

How to get rid of it

To prepare, the city has been inoculating ash trees, mostly in Odell and Wilmot parks and along city streets

To apply the pesticide, several holes are drilled into the tree. Then a small white canister carrying the insecticide TreeAzin into the holes. The active ingredient in TreeAzin is azadirachtin, which is derived from a tree native to India called the neem tree.

Treatments need to be performed every two years.

Fredericton has about 10,000 ash trees in Odell Park and about 2,400 along city streets. The numbers don't include ash trees in other city-owned parks or on private property.

"There's no guarantee with the treatment but if you don't treat the trees they will not survive," Glynn said.

To fight off the invasive species, the city will cut down weaker ash trees and replace them with new ones and intensify detection. Almost 40 traps have been set up to find the tiny insect, but more are expected.

Members of the public can also report any sightings to the City of Fredericton, Glynn said.

"This is very bad news for the ash tree population of Fredericton."