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Emerald Ash Borer

Will Plainfield’s Ash Trees Suffer the Fate of the American Elm and American Chestnut Trees?

EAB sign on tree on Gloyd Street. This tree is not yet infested

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.

Emerald Ash Borer on leaf
Emerald Ash Borer (about 1/2″ long in real life)

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, 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. 

Picture of bark-less ash tree which shows Emerald Ash Borer larvae tunnels and holes
Under-bark damage from EAB larvae

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):
Judy Williams (Conservation Commission):
Anna Hanchett (Agricultural Commission):
Plainfield Tree Alliance:


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Plainfield Tree Planting Guide

Download the Plainfield Tee Planting Guide. This guide is designed to help you choose trees to plant or favor along the road, in particular, but also on your property. There, however, because of the absence of the many stressors that make life difficult for trees along the road, you have more choices. In the guide, you will find suggestions for tall trees and trees for under power lines, flowering trees, and not. One thing they all have in common: they are all native trees.

Trees are one of Plainfield’s greatest assets. Not only do they give us beauty and shade, they provide homes for pollinators and help absorb excess carbon from the atmosphere. Use this pamphlet to help you decide what trees to plant and where to plant them.

Trees planted near the street, usually in rows, are a particular feature of Plainfield, as well as a special category, biologically as much as legally. Not only must street trees be salt tolerant, they must not interfere with power lines. 

Although property owners own these trees, the General Laws of Mass. give municipalities authority to cut them and take other actions as necessary for public safety.

The Plainfield Tree Alliance works with local authorities and property owners to choose, plant, and care for replacement street trees, if owners desire such plantings. For example, locating the trees away from power lines is especially important.  

The Plainfield Tree Alliance will also work with property owners to plant street trees further away from the road, on private property. These then become the responsibility of the owner. 

Planting trees is an act of hope. Trees you plant now, whether on the street or in your back yard, will give people joy and serve the environment far into the future.