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Communities brace for arrival and devastation of the Emerald Ash Borer

By JOLEEN FERRIS

(WKTV) - Local communities are bracing themselves for the arrival of a tiny, but deadly, predator.

The Emerald Ash Borer bores into ash trees in order to lay its eggs. And once it starts, officials with Cornell Cooperative Extension say there's no stopping it.

"There's no natural predators to it and because it bores underneath the wood, there's no way you can spray and prevent this from happening," says Master Gardener Lynette Kay. "So, emerald ash borer will kill mature trees within four years if it gets an infestation."

Kay says the economic impact can be significant for many reasons.

"This is going to be a huge economic thing for people as an ash tree dies, because they're big trees. You're going to have to pay to have them cut down. The utility companies are going to have to pay to have these cut down because a lot of them are street trees," Kay said. "So, we're all going to be affected by this. It's also a tree used for a lot of lumber products and baseball bats. It's a harvest-able, usable tree, so it's going to have economic implications."

Purple boxes hang from ash trees throughout Oneida County. Their purpose is to trap the insects when they arrive so that officials can quantify the problem and try and figure out a natural predator or some other way to slow their spread.

Right now, the insects are in western New York. The quickest way they're currently spread is by people. This is why officials are urging everyone to use local firewood. Pennsylvania had an infestation and if someone from that state brings their own firewood camping in the Adirondacks, it could help spread the problem to central New York.

For more, you can visit the NYS DEC website on the Emerald Ash Borer.

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