A North Texas city is taking steps to try and stay ahead of an invasive species that causes havoc in ash trees. The Emerald Ash Borer has already been found in Tarrant County, near Eagle Mountain Lake. That’s just thirty miles from Denton. Now city officials there are preparing for the inevitable.
Denton has approximately 138,000 ash trees, according to a 2016 forestry count. It’s the eighth most populous tree there, but the one that faces the biggest threat – from a beetle which originated in Asia.
“The issue here is it attacks and kills ash trees,” said Haywood Morgan Jr., City of Denton Urban Forester.
The Emerald Ash borer is green in color, and smaller than a penny. The beetle bores its way into the bark of the tree, and lays eggs. Larvae feed on water conducting tissue, eventually killing the tree. The Emerald Ash Borer has been found in 33 states. The beetle was first discovered in east Texas in 2016, according to Texas A&M AgriLife.
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Once you find out the tree's infected, it's been that way for 2-5 years,” said Morgan. “In most cases, it's too late by then to do anything to treat it."
Options for pre-treating trees are available. Injecting insecticide into the tree is most common, and generally effective.
“Usually, when you're a reactionary mode, you almost never catch up,” said Morgan.
Denton leaders say they're discussing the best way to treat ash trees on public property, as well as recommendations for homeowners. According to the city, replacing ash trees would cost an estimated $100 million dollars. Treating them now appears much cheaper than cutting them down later.