Emerald ash borer found in Amherst

  • An adult emerald ash borer.   FILE PHOTO

  • In this Oct. 26, 2011, photo, an emerald ash borer larvae is removed from an ash tree in Saugerties, New York.   AP PHOTO/MIKE GROL

Staff Writer
Published: 11/15/2019 4:04:00 PM
Modified: 11/15/2019 4:03:45 PM

AMHERST — A pest that has devastated ash trees in Connecticut and several other states for the past 17 years has been discovered in Amherst for the first time.

On Friday, town officials announced that an infestation by the emerald ash borer was located by a tree company in a dead tree it was removing from private property in downtown Amherst.

Alan Snow, the town’s tree warden and director of trees and grounds for the Department of Public Works, said in a phone interview that the arrival of the emerald ash borer is not surprising. Since September 2018, emerald ash borer outbreaks have occurred in Northampton, Easthampton, Belchertown and South Hadley.

“It starts out in small infestations and the population builds rapidly,” Snow said. 

Based on the extent of the infestation, it appears that the emerald ash borer may have been present for between three and four years in the Amherst tree, Snow said.

A nonnative beetle, the emerald ash borer in its larval form proves deadly to ash trees and burns its way through them quickly, according to Snow.

For homeowners with ash trees on their properties, left untreated the trees will likely succumb to the outbreak, Snow said. Snow recommends that people consult a certified arborist to discuss management options.

He added that he is monitoring identified high-profile landscape trees in town that could also be affected, and will make a commitment, as necessary, to begin a treatment regimen in the spring.

“For the foreseeable future ash trees are not a viable species,” Snow said, adding that in his eight years as a town employee, and before that as a volunteer tree warden, Amherst has not planted any ash trees while improving the tree canopy.

While Snow said there is no need to quarantine wood from ash trees, people should still be cautious about not moving it too far to limit the emerald ash borer’s spread.

He anticipates holding a public information session in the spring when the emerald ash borer will become active again after dormancy during the winter. 

People can learn more about the pest at https://www.mass.gov/guides/emerald-ash-borer-in-massachusetts.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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