Arborists are fighting a losing battle against two tiny tree
killers that are cutting an ugly swath from Massachusetts to Minnesota.
The two headliners on the arborists’ most wanted list are the emerald ash borer (EAB), which targets ash trees, and the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), which nibbles mostly on hardwoods like elms and maples.
The adult EAB is less than an inch long, with metallic green wing covers and a coppery red or purple abdomen. It is most deadly in its larval stage. The ALB is a glossy black beetle about 1 ½ inches long with blue-tinted feet and white markings and very long black and white banded antennae. Its damage comes when it emerges from its egg.
“These infestations can really take a toll on your home’s worth,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “Healthy trees can add 15 percent or more to your home’s property value, but unhealthy trees can detract much more than that , cause serious property damage and even personal injury.”
Angie's List, the nation's premiere provider of consumer reviews
on local service, has gathered information on the best local tree service experts for 15 years and recently surveyed highly rated arborists for advice on how consumers can best deal with insect invasions.
The key to saving the tree without spending a fortune is finding a qualified and reliable tree service to help. Arborists may be able to save trees. Tree removal experts can safely take down and properly discard trees too far gone to be rescued.
Finding the critters early is essential to saving trees, say arborists. Insecticides can be injected into the trees ahead of the bugs’ arrival. That treatment, which varies in cost according to the bug and the size of the tree, can cost hundreds of dollars annually.
Tree removal generally costs thousands of dollars, but is the responsible reaction to a tree that could otherwise fall on a home or onto a neighbor’s property, causing even more damage. Liability for damage caused by neglected, unhealthy trees generally rests with the owner of the trees.
EAB larvae feed on the bark of ash trees, destroying the trees’ ability to absorb water and nutrients. The bugs have killed millions of ash trees in Michigan alone and affected tens of millions more in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Despite efforts to control the spread of EAB, each year tree experts say they creep further into the nation.
Experts think the emerald ash borer arrived in the country inside wood packing materials transported from Asia. The United States Department of Agriculture has tracked the bug since it arrived in 2002 around Detroit.
ALB infestations have resulted in the loss of 27,000 trees since 2008 in Massachusetts. State officials are investing more than $80 million to eradicate the bugs with insecticides or to remove the trees. After hatching, the ALB emerges from perfectly round, dime-sized holes in trees. They will continue to emerge through October. They’ve also been chewing on trees in Chicago, New York and New Jersey.
Both bugs are transported mostly within firewood. Once the buggers are identified, state officials generally restrict wood from being removed from the affected area while they try to stem the infestation, fining violators and possibly filing criminal charges.
How to Hire the Right Tree Removal Expert
Do your homework:
Check Angie’s List and other sources to determine local tree service companies’ qualifications and reputations.
Many tree service companies will have an ISA-certified arborist on staff. Certified Arborists have passed an extensive examination covering all aspects of tree care and offer good advice about whether a tree can be saved.
Ask about membership in professional organizations such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), or the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA).
Ask for proof of insurance
. A reputable company will carry personal and property damage insurance as well as workers compensation insurance. You could be held responsible for damages and injuries by an uninsured contractor.
Angie’s List collects consumer reviews on local contractors and doctors in more than 500 service categories. Currently, more than 1 million consumers across the U.S. and Canada rely on Angie’s List to help them make the best hiring decisions. Members get unlimited access to local ratings via Internet or phone, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List magazine and help from the Angie’s List complaint resolution service. Take a quick tour of Angie’s List and view the latest Angie’s List news.