Invasive Beetle Killing Ash Trees In Boston

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio)— Boston's ash trees are under attack.

An invasive species of beetle known as the Emerald Ash Borer has been wreaking havoc on the ash trees in the city to the point the City of Boston and the Boston Parks Department announced a contingency plan Friday to deal with the pest.

The plan includes treating any of the infected trees that can still be saved and removing any trees that can't be or are already dead. The city plans to replace any removed trees with one that is not affected by the beetle.

First discovered in Boston in 2014 at the Arnold Arboretum, the Emerald Ash Borer kills ash trees by laying eggs in the bark of the trees and after the eggs hatch, the larvae will burrow deeper into the tree, killing it. This beetle is only known to attack ash trees.

The beetle has been identified in nearly 10 of Boston's neighborhoods and in some of the city's green spaces, like the Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park. Common signs a tree is infested by the beetles include small D-shaped holes in the bark of the tree, "blonding" on trees from woodpeckers feeding on the larvae and beetles, and sprouting at the base of the tree trunk.

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Ash trees are common in Boston due to the fact they are normally strong and withstand the elements of the New England seasons, according to Andrew Gapinski, the Director of Horticulture at the Arnold Arboretum. He told WBZ's Karyn Regal the next step is to identify a new tree strong enough to replace the ash tree.

"[The ash tree] could tolerate high salt levels, urban pollution, and soil compaction so it was a very important tree in our urban landscape," Gapinski said. "As those trees decline they also pose a safety risk to people and property so it's really important the city removes those trees and replaces them with new species."

There are around 1,817 ash trees in Boston, which makes up 4.3 percent of the city's tree population.

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@karynregal) has more.

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