The City of Charlottetown is preparing to combat the inevitable arrival of a destructive pest that could threaten its trees.
Emerald ash borer (EAB), a non-native and invasive insect that kills ash trees, has moved into Atlantic Canada.
The city has partnered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to install traps in six locations throughout Charlottetown to monitor for the insect. The traps, which are being placed on city property, are suspended high in the ash tree canopy. They do not contain any pesticides, and residents are asked not to disturb the traps.
EAB is a buprestid or jewel beetle that feeds on the trees. It has killed tens of millions of ash trees and continues to spread into new areas throughout North America. It causes considerable economic and ecological impacts through the need for both tree removal programs and management programs. EAB was first confirmed in Canada when it was detected in Windsor, Ont., in 2002. Since then, it has spread to more locations in Ontario and was detected in Quebec in 2008. In 2017, it was detected in Winnipeg, Man. Most recently, EAB has been detected in New Brunswick.
To date, the insect has not been found on P.E.I., but the monitoring program is the first line of defense against its impending arrival. EAB causes about a 99 per cent mortality rate in ash trees. The earlier EAB is detected, the better prepared the city said it can be to manage the outbreak.
There are about 313 ash trees in the city’s street tree inventory. City staff have begun monitoring the ash for symptoms and signs of stress and this work will continue over the summer.
In partnership with the P.E.I. Invasive Species Council, an EAB display and related educational information has been compiled and is being displayed at workshops, conferences and events to help educate the public. Information is also available on the city’s website.
To assist in the prevention of the spread of EAB, the public is reminded not to move firewood. Firewood is one of the highest risk pathways for moving insects, pests and diseases around. The public is asked to use the “Burn it where you buy it” philosophy, which involves buying campfire wood near the campsite being visited and leaving behind any wood not burned. If purchasing wood to heat a home or cottage, the wood should be sourced as close to the residence as possible.
As prevention and monitoring efforts continue, the city will work with stakeholders and partners on P.E.I. and in other municipalities on detection, public education and the development of a management plan.
More information on EAB can be found at: emeraldashborer.info.