Neighborhood hopes to save ash trees using special injection - KCTV5 News

Neighborhood hopes to save ash trees using special injection

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There's an effort underway to save thousands of Kansas City trees Tuesday through a special injection.

The Greenway Fields Homes Association is giving ash trees at Strawn Park, located at 63rd Street and Valley Road, and the surrounding neighborhood injections. The injections are similar to people getting flu shots, but are done to the trunk at several spots at the same time.

The chemical the trees are being injected with is supposed to kill off the emerald ash borer beetle.

The emerald ash borer is a native of Asia, but started showing up in the United States in 2002. The pest can wipe out huge numbers of ash trees in one area before anyone realizes there's a problem.

"The beauty of this neighborhood is its trees," said Beth Noble.

Noble said she enjoys walking her dog under the canopy of trees, and wanted to find a solution when she learned that the ash trees were under siege by the tiny green bug.

"Think of what that would be if the trees have to be removed, which is what happens if it is infected. You just realize it would be devastating. The motivation is to protect it and prevent it. Let's do it," she said.

The homes association and Noble said they have nearly 40 ash trees in their neighborhood and they were concerned about them, so she applied for a special grant to pay for the injections.

Through the project, a specialist drills holes at the base of each tree and gives it a shot of a blue chemical called TREE-age from Arborjet.

The chemical will kill the beetle as soon as it begins to feed off the tree.

"Every beetle can lay generally between 50 and 100 eggs a year so, if you think about it, 10 become 1,000 and 1,000 become 100,000, however it works out with the math, to where a small infestation of just a few beetles can overtake a tree like this in five years," said Nicholas Goergen, a plant healthcare technician.

Goergen said the emerald ash beetle has already killed millions of ash trees in the northern parts of the U.S. and it has been confirmed in the Midwest in places like Wyandotte County, KS, and Platte County, MO.

"What happens is the emerald ash beetle bores under the bark to the layer where it eats all the living tissue around the tree starting at top and working toward the bottom," he said.

Noble wanted to make sure her neighborhood trees continue to stand tall, so she wasn't taking any chances.

"You really don't know because their (the beetle's) presence is not easily identifiable until it's too late. Once they attack the tree, you don't know they are there until the tree begins to die," she said.

The cost to treat an ash tree like the 30-year-old ones in the Greenway Fields Homes Association is close to $300.

A single trunk injection will protect the trees for up to two years.

There are three signs to look for that might mean your ash tree could be infected with the emerald ash borer. They are:

  • Unusual sprouts on the trunk.
  • The canopy starts to become more yellowish in color and thinner.
  • Woodpeckers are more attracted to the tree because the bird can actually hear the larvae inside it.

If a person is worried about the status of their ash tree, they should call an arborist to check on its health.

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