Beetle bores through city budget
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 00:03
The emerald ash borer, an invasive species of beetle, is killing local ash trees and threatening the beauty of Oxford and Miami University’s campus.
Erin Graham, a Miami University senior who did a research presentation on ash trees, said she is troubled by the potential threat and loss of the ash trees on campus.
“A tree that you’ve grown so accustomed to being there is now gone,” Graham said. “That shade is now gone, the feeling of being under that tree is now gone.”
The beetle harming the trees, no larger than a penny, reproduces larvae that sit in the tree and eat at the capillary system, consuming the living parts of the ash trees, according to zoology professor Alan Cady. The beetles are a foreign species, with no local predators, so they have no restrictions on how many trees they consume.
Dead and dying ash trees become very brittle and can easily fall, creating a danger in the region.
“They will come down on their own, in unpredictable and uncontrolled ways,” Cady said. “So once a tree dies you need to have it taken down professionally.”
The City of Oxford is actively treating 181 ash trees with pesticides that can be absorbed from the soil or sprayed and absorbed through the bark, according to David Treleaven, Oxford’s Environmental Specialist.
Treleaven encourages treatment of the trees.
“If you treat a tree it might not survive, but if you don’t treat it then it will for sure die,” Treleaven said.
Since 2009 the city has removed 37 ash trees and planted 55 replacements, according to Treleaven. A combined four trees were removed in January and February, costing the city $4,180, according to Treleaven.
He has submitted a proposal for $381,775 to Oxford’s Capital Improvement Project for a portion of the funding for the removal and plantings of trees.
Treleaven has been allcoated $32,500 by the city to care for Oxford’s 3,400 public trees. Ash trees make up 622, or 18 percent, of those trees, but only 181 are currently being treated because of limited funding. It would cost half a million dollars to remove the trees that are not being treated and another $267,000 to replant new trees.
The most efficient way to treat an infected ash tree is with an injected pesticide, according to Cady.
According to Treleaven, the city does not inject its trees because it cannot afford to do so.
Treleaven is worried the damage will have a huge effect on Hueston Woods, a local state park and nature preserve. Campus ash trees will take a hit as well.
“There are some really big ones,” Graham.said. “I know there is one on Western [campus], it’s by Kumler Chapel, it’s enormous. They are everywhere here, for now.”