Emerald Ash Borer hits St. Paul, university protects trees

The emerald ash borer, an insect that is not native to North America, has migrated into St. Paul.

The bug has been found in the Summit community. The infestation has brought worry to many people in the area, including the St.Thomas grounds department.

The reason some people are worried about the emerald ash borer’s presence in the area is because of its ability to destroy ash trees.

Bob Reed, manager of grounds and landscape, said there are more than 20 ash trees on St. Thomas’ campus. The university has taken steps to prevent many of the ash trees from being infested.

“We’ve gone into a treatment program,” Reed said. “We hired S & S Tree Specialists to come out and inject our trees every two years. They use a chemical called Tree-Age.”

The university is not treating all the ash trees on campus because a few of the trees are not in the best health. The grounds department is treating 23 ash trees on the campus, but the treatment is not cheap.

“We are talking several thousands of dollars every time we do injections, close to the seven- eight thousand dollar range for the trees we do have done,” Reed said.

He said they will continue to treat the ash trees until something is discovered that will permanently stop the ash borers from destroying them.

Junior Linh Nguyen has mixed feelings on the amount of money being spent for the treatment of the ash trees.

“I don’t see any harm in it,” Linh said. “Overall though the costs and benefits if you analyze it, it’s probably better if we do eliminate the trees and just invest money and start growing new trees.”

The university decided during the construction on the quad to eliminate two of the larger ash trees. The trees had a lot of trunk rot, which would have made them vulnerable to the emerald ash borer, but they did not show any sign of the ash borer, Reed said.

The city of St. Paul has released chinese wasps into the Summit area to attack the emerald ash borer, but the students should not worry about the wasps.

U.S. Forest Service Research Biologist Rob Venette said the wasps are no danger to humans.

“The wasps don’t sting people,” Venette said. “They only attack the emerald ash borer.”

The university cannot be certain there is not any ash trees infected by the ash borer because some trees will not show any sign of infestation for five years, but Reed said they would hate to lose any of their trees.

“We’ve made sure that we have been ahead of it and try to save what we can,” he said.

Olivia Detweiler can be reached at detw5520@stthomas.edu.