Invasive insect returns this year

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – An invasive pest covered the Wabash Valley with the potential to wipe out entire tree populations last year.

And the emerald ash borer (EAB) hasn’t disappeared this year. Thursday, the 3rd annual EAB summit discussed what’s being done to minimize damage.

A destructive insect invaded the Wabash Valley, wiping out hundreds of trees last year.

And this year, it appears to be no different.

“I think it’s going to start ramping up this year. I think last year was kind of the introduction,” said Stephanie Krull, grounds manager, Indiana State University.

ISU alone lost about 36 ash trees to this plague last year. This year, it could be anywhere from 50 to 100.

With the EAB already killing untreated ash trees this year, what does that mean for a community and its money?

“The cost for us to remove a tree like this can range from 250 to 400 dollars,” said Krull.

That’s pretty pricey. It’s typically cheaper to treat the problem instead of removing it, and you can spread the money over a longer period of time.

That’s why ISU is trying out a new method to eliminate the petty pest on their campus. They’re treating 40 percent of the infected trees.

“It’s a blanket approach, treating 40 percent but it’s interspersed through the rest of the trees. So you’re hoping the odds of a beetle feeding on a poisoned leaf during that two-week fight period, and before it lays its eggs, is high,” said Adam Witte, Exotic Forest Pest Educator, Purdue University.

So why should the community care as a whole? What do you gain from saving these trees besides having a scenic city?

“You want to increase your urban tree canopy. You reduce a lot of cooling costs. They help collect storm water runoff, reduce energy use, reduce co2, pollution. When you remove all that, it creates a warmer environment through heat island effect,” said Witte.

“It’s the best option for students and staff as far as keeping a nice shade canopy, attractive campus environment,” said Krull.

Officials also say the local ecosystem will eventually become used to the emerald ash borer.

But that won’t been seen for quite some time, up to an entire generation.

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