Saving its ash: Charlottetown taking steps to keep destructive beetle out of its trees

Charlottetown is using the winter months to work on protecting the city's trees from invasive species such as the emerald ash borer.

Emerald ash borer hasn't been seen on P.E.I., but city wants to be ready if it arrives

Once the emerald ash borer has been introduced to an area, it will kill between 97 per cent and 100 per cent of the ash trees, says Charlottetown parkland conservationist Beth Hoar. (David Cappaert/Michigan State University)

Charlottetown's message to the emerald ash borer is clear: Bug off.

The city is even using the winter months to work on protecting its trees from the invasive species.

The beetle has not yet been spotted on Prince Edward Island, but was found in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in 2018.

It has killed tens of millions of trees across North America.

Once the emerald ash borer has been introduced to an area, it will kill between 97 per cent and 100 per cent of the ash trees, said Charlottetown parkland conservationist Beth Hoar.

The city is being proactive in case the emerald ash borer makes its way to P.E.I., she said, and losing the trees as an ecological resource is not the only concern.

"Once you get it, you're going to lose a lot of your ash trees, so it becomes very expensive to manage that," she said. "Once the trees die in the urban setting they become hazardous. We then have a safety issue as well."

Pruning trees

The city is pruning its ash trees while the beetles would be hibernating during the winter. That's because if the pruning is done during the summer, the "wounded" tree would be more susceptible to attracting the emerald ash borer, Hoar said.

The city is also working on an inventory of ash trees. Last year it put pesticide-free traps on ash trees and plans to do it again this summer.

"If we have emerald ash borer we should catch them on those sticky traps," Hoar said.

Transported in firewood

Hoar said people can help limit the spread of the emerald ash borer by not moving firewood between provinces.

"We are kind of isolated because we are on an Island, but moving wood products, firewood in particular, you can move around forest insect pests because the larvae can be inside the wood. So if someone's going camping or moving wood around, they can bring those pests over here."

More P.E.I. news

With files from John Robertson


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