The emerald ash borer beetle (Photo: Furnished)
The emerald ash borer beetle (Photo: Furnished)
EVANSVILLE — An ash tree removed from Bellemeade Park on Friday became the latest victim of the emerald ash borer.

The invasive insect has spread throughout the city since it's presence was first documented in Evansville several years ago.

City Arborist Shawn Dickerson said he is hopeful a new tree can be planted to replace the ash tree, which shaded a playground at Bellemeade Park.

Ash borers kill the trees by digging into them and depositing their larvae underneath the bark. Typically, the ash borers will have killed the affected tree within a few years.

Emerald ash borers are insects native to Asia. They were first discovered in the United States in 2002 and have spread to more than two dozen states, including Indiana in 2004. The insects have been blamed for destroying hundreds of millions of trees.

Signs of infestation are small, D-shaped holes in the bark, thinning of the tree's canopy, die-back of the tree from the top down and increased woodpecker activity.

The city is working to spread the word about the pest and encourage property owners to apply preventative treatments to their ash trees.

"Once a tree has them it is really difficult to stop them," Dickerson said. "It's been in Evansville for some time now. Just assume if you have an ash tree that it has them unless you have treated it."

Trees typically need the treatment applied every 2-3 years, he said. A list of companies that currently treat ash trees is available on the Evansville Department of Urban Forestry web page, along with other information about emerald ash borers.

Dickerson said the cost of treating a tree over a 10-year period is considerably less than the cost of tree removal. However, it can be a pricey proposition for the city when faced with maintaining numerous trees on various properties.

Anthony Moffat, commercial manager of TruGreen lawn care, which treats for emerald ash borers, said the cost typically varies between $35 and $500, depending on the tree.

The company, along with the Evansville Parks Foundation, donated money to establish and operate Adopt-An-Ash, to raise awareness of, and promote opportunities for community engagement in combating the emerald ash borer.

The program offers the opportunity to adopt an ash tree on city streets, parks or other municipal greenspaces by paying for the tree's treatment. Participants will receive an acknowledgement tag on the adopted tree and recognition on the program website, at General donations are also accepted.

Of the city’s approximately 12,000 trees, about 7 percent, or 300, are ash trees found on public property.

City Cemetery Superintendent Chris Cooke said 23 ash trees have been identifed in Oak Hill Cemetery and Arboretum, and one tree in Locust Cemetery.

"Several are over 200 years old and predate the cemetery," he said.
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