Will Plainfield’s Ash Trees Suffer the Fate of the American Elm and American Chestnut Trees?
The answer is, yes, unless we act now.
Learn more by watching this video:
PTA Meeting Nicole Keleher, Forest Health Program Director, DCR Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry
Those of you old enough may remember American elm trees that once lined the streets of many American towns, until The Dutch Elm Disease wiped them out. An historic elm tree, as old as the town, still exists on Summer St. in Lanesboro, MA. The chestnut (not horse chestnut or buckeye) almost became extinct in the 1950s due to a fungus called the chestnut blight. (Since then the American Chestnut Society has been working diligently to restore the chestnuts. There is an American Chestnut Preserve in Stockbridge, MA, not far from the Red Lion Inn.)
In 2002 the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a beetle native to Asia, was first detected in Michigan. Twenty years later, as of June 2022, it has been detected in 36 states and 239 (68%) of MA communities. Until recently, Plainfield was one of only two western MA communities that had no confirmed evidence of EABs. This past September, an ash tree on South Central St. in Plainfield has been confirmed with an infestation of beetle damage.
The evidence of their larvae damage, S-shaped galleries (tunnels), is evident where the bark has decomposed. The adult beetle will over winter under bark, emerge May-July, and then lay numerous eggs in bark crevices and layers. The eggs hatch in 7-10 days, and the larvae bore into the tree where they chew the inner bark and phloem, creating winding galleries as they feed. This cuts off the flow of water and nutrients in the tree, thereby causing its dieback and death.
What do we do now? Do we just have to wait until all or most of our ash trees are gone? The Plainfield Tree Alliance is working with the Conservation Commission, the Agricultural Commission, and the Tree Warden in deciding on and coordinating our approach. We urge you to educate yourselves and use the following strategies for tree owners.
First: be proactive and go have a look at the tree on South Central( just South of Pleasant on the West side) to see the damage so you can recognize it.
Second, read up on the problem. Is there anything a homeowner can do to prevent the death of an ash tree due to EAB or treat ash trees? You can find pamphlets in the library, at the town offices, and at the transfer station. Check out the PTA Website at Plainfieldtrees.org, where we will be listing pertinent information. In addition, we have hosted an educational Zoom meeting with Nicole Keleher, Forest Health Program Director, DCR Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry on October 17th. You can see it here. Finally, let us know! Contact the Conservation or Agricultural Commission or — if it is a street tree— Tree Warden Bob Mellstrom if you see a tree you think is being damaged by EAB.
Some resources advise using pesticides. The Plainfield Tree Alliance, along with the Plainfield Conservation Commission and the Plainfield Agricultural Commission, advise great caution and reluctance with respect to the use of pesticides. They tend to kill the pollinators we need to survive ourselves. In addition, EAB has been shown to get immune to pesticides. And finally, we’re not going to stop this with pesticides, we have to mitigate and manage it. Please be in touch with Bob, Judy, or Anna first to confirm the infestation. You can also report to us using this FORM. We will soon be publishing guidelines after doing more research.
Bob Mellstrom (Tree Warden): firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Williams (Conservation Commission): email@example.com
Anna Hanchett (Agricultural Commission): firstname.lastname@example.org
Plainfield Tree Alliance: Plainfieldtrees.org
- Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources’s EAB Site: https://massnrc.org/pests/pestFAQsheets/emeraldashborer.html
- Overview Webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv0Hy9zN4pE
- General Information Site: http://www.emeraldashborer.info/