City of Fredericton prepares for arrival of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle

Click to play video 'Fredericton declares war on invasive pest' Fredericton declares war on invasive pest
WATCH: Fredericton is declaring war on an invasive pest that could cause unprecedented damage to ash trees. The city has thousands of trees and a plan to protect them is ramping up. Adrienne South has more.

The City of Fredericton and The Canadian Forest Service are ramping up efforts to trap and detect the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle as it makes its way across the country.

The invasive pests are a major threat to the province’s ash trees and the beetles have already made their way into the eastern parts of the province,

City of Fredericton Arboriculture Foreman Neil Trebble said it’s only a matter of time until the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) makes it way to the capital.

READ MORE: Invasive Emerald Ash Borer heading to Atlantic Canada, officials concerned over potential impact

“Now that it’s on our back door in Edmonston it’s quite a concern for us,” Trebble said.

The city is working with Natural Resources Canada to develop a plan. For the second year in a row, the city has teamed up with The Canadian Forest Service to set up traps that lure-in the beetles and trap them, alerting scientists to their arrival in parts of the province.

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“The reality is that we don’t even know if it’s here yet or not, there’s a possibility it could be here and we just don’t know it yet so we’re doing everything we can to find it,” Trebble said.

Canadian Forest Service Invasive Species technician Kate Van Rooyen said they are putting traps in areas where the invasive insects could be coming into the province, such as in parks and campgrounds.

“Right now we have approximately 15 of the 24 traps out. The rest of the traps are going out in the next couple of days and what this is, this is an expanded monitoring program that we’ve been working on with the City of Fredericton’s current efforts that have already been going on for the past three years,” Van Rooyen said.

READ MORE: Ash tree removal continues at Hamilton’s Mohawk Sports Park

The green prism traps smell like an ash tree to the EAB and they have a phermone-lure that smells like potential mates. That attracts the beetles to the traps as they look for ash trees.

Van Rooyan said once the beetles get into the trees they can destroy them within three to five years. Van Rooyen said early detection is important because the earlier the pests are detected, the sooner protective measures can be implemented.

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“The ash trees are one of their main hosts so they’ll flock to the trees for the purposes of mating and feeding,” Van Rooyen said. “One of the big issues with Emerald Ash Borer is that they start causing crown die-back, and once that crown dies those branches fall, which causes public health and safety issues.”

Natural Resources Canada scientist Lucas Roscoe said there is a pesticide that can be injected into trees, but he said it’s not a one-time thing and it needs to be done every couple years to maintain the ability of the tree to kill the EAB.

READ MORE: Invasive pest targeting Okanagan fruit

Roscoe said the injections can be costly, and said it’s not an “economically feasible” option in a large forest, but said it could be useful in protecting a few important street trees.

Trebble said the city is working on developing a strong management plan that will be presented to council in July.

“There’s three alternatives,” Trebble said, “Either we do nothing or we inoculate all our trees, or we do a hybrid and a combination of the two with inoculations and removals.”

He said no matter what option the city goes with it’s going to be “costly.”

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Officials are asking people to leave the traps where they are and if anyone does find a trap that’s fallen down they should call the City or Natural Resources Canada so the traps can be re-hung.

Reducing the Risk

Nature Conservancy of Canada director of conservation science Josh Noseworthy said there are two main ways to try slow down the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer.

He said the first step is for people to avoid burning firewood outside the area where it was purchased.

“In summertime people like to go camping, of course they like to have a camp fire, but it’s important that we don’t actually move firewood from location-to-location because Emerald Ash Borer could be hiding in that firewood and we could be inadvertently spreading it to other areas and kind of speeding up its spread across the province,” Noseworthy said.

The other thing he said is important is to diversify forests across the Maritime region.  He said the more species of trees that are planted, the less chances that insects like the EAB can access all the ash trees in the forest and destroy them.

“So there’s a chance that some of these ash trees could actually survive in a diverse forest,” Noseworthy said.