Battling the Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borers are currently the biggest threat to Minnesota’s tree population and a major headache to property owners. The small Asian beetles place their larvae below the bark of the tree. When the larvae hatch, the grubs eat the inner bark of the tree, essentially starving it to death. 

According to the Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota has more than 900 million ash trees, second most in the nation. That makes the state one of the largest at risk for a full-on Emerald Ash Borer infestation. 

The pest control company Arborjet is trying to turn the beetle from a threat to a nuisance with its new treatment option for ash trees.

“We know it’s here,” said Rob Gorden, National Sales Director of Arborjet. “It remains hidden for a long time, when it attacks the outcome is death.”

Gorden explained that the company’s newest chemical is cheap and effective enough to be a viable alternative to removing infested trees outright. 

“Our product has a 99 percent success rate in controlling the insects,” said Rob Gorden, National Sales Director of Arborjet. “Not only can we kill it, we found a city can treat a tree for about $53 and get themselves two years of protection.”

To treat a tree, workers drill small circular holes around the base of the trunk. A small, plastic plug (called an Arbor Plug) is then inserted into each of the holes. The plastic plug has a rubber seal that helps keep the chemical from leaking out of the tree. Workers then inject the chemical into the tree through the rubber seal and the only evidence of the operation is sawdust left on the ground from drilling. 

The treatment was on display last month when Arborjet teamed up with TruGreen, a Memphis-based lawn service company, to treat 34 trees in the Lowry Hill and Whittier neighborhoods. Specifically, 20 trees were treated on Pleasant Avenue and 14 on Dupont Avenue.

The treatment came at no expense to the city, with Arborjet providing the chemical and TruGreen donating time and labor. It’s been six months since Ash Borers were found in Prospect Park. That infestation has mainly been controlled through removing the infected trees. 

“It costs $750–$1000 dollars to remove a tree,” Gorden explained. “The city needs to see that removing trees is not a good option.”

He said that a tree can be treated for 40 years before the cost equals the cost of cutting it down. The dollar value does not take into account intangibles like street appeal or utility bills. According to Gorden, Minneapolis is slated to remove 38,000 infected or at-risk trees from various parts of the city.

“Citizens lament the loss of their trees,” Gorden said. “Heating bills go up, cooling bills go up and watering bills go up. One city removed 3,000 ash trees and watering bills increased 33 percent.”

Arborjet is awaiting the decision from Minneapolis. As Gorden sees it, it should be an easy one to make.

“That’s the art of the possible,” he said. “We’ve eliminated all the issues. [The city] removed 1,000 trees this year, so it would take 38 years to remove all the trees. We don’t have 38 years.”