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Students combing through Fredericton forests for invasive insects

Megan Yamoah / Global News

Natural Resources Canada is using branch sampling to detect if the emerald ash borer is entering urban environments in New Brunswick.

The emerald ash borer eats the conductive tissue that transports water and mineral nutrients from the base of the tree to the branches, causing the trees to die.

READ MORE: Emerald ash borer found for the first time in Nova Scotia

“It’s projected to kill up to 98 per cent of the ash trees,” said Benjamin Shannon, a student at Maritime College of Forest Technology.

Students from the Maritime College of Forest Technology are on the hunt for the invasive species threatening ash trees in Fredericton this winter.
Students from the Maritime College of Forest Technology are on the hunt for the invasive species threatening ash trees in Fredericton this winter. Megan Yamoah / Global News

Students from the college are on the hunt for the invasive species threatening ash trees in Fredericton this winter.

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“If there are signs of emerald ash borer in any of these trees, they’ll probably go take that particular tree out,” said Shannon

The students, along with the Canadian Forest Service and the City of Fredericton, have collected tree samples to determine if the emerald ash borer is present in ash trees in the capital city.

Megan Yamoah / Global News

“If we find some, we’ve got the address of where all these trees are located and where all these samples were taken and then the city is going to have to figure out what they are going to do about the fact that we have EAB in the city,” said Shannon

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This invasive insect from Asia presently infests a large number of ash trees in Ontario and Quebec.

“Ash trees are really important as part of the community ecology of cities. They help with drainage, they help with shade and cooling, heating of areas and they are also really important for residential values. It could get rather expensive in terms of homeowners having to take down trees,” said Kate Van Rooyen, an invasive species technician with the Canadian Forest Service.

Kate Van Rooyen is an invasive species technician.
Kate Van Rooyen is an invasive species technician. Megan Yamoah / Global News

The emerald ash borer has been in Canada since 2002 and they have been steadily moving east.

“It was found for the first time last spring in Edmundston and then last fall it was found in the Bedford area of Halifax,” said Van Rooyen.

WATCH: Government team looking at other areas in Halifax potentially infested with invasive beetle

Government team looking at other areas in Halifax potentially infested with invasive beetle
Government team looking at other areas in Halifax potentially infested with invasive beetle

Natural Resources Canada advises one of the many requirements for effective management of the insects is early detection of infestations.

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“We’d like to know when it is here because we can limit the potential spread of the population, we can eliminate hazards within the city and we can get a jump on tree planting so we can try to establish new trees,” said James Wishart, a City of Fredericton forest technologist.