Sep 26 2011
If you live in the Pittsburgh area, now is the time to see it. Our ashes are dying.
Since 2007 when emerald ash borer was found in Cranberry, I’ve known our ash trees were doomed by this insect pest but their death is occurring faster than I expected.
In May 2010 I noticed emerald ash borer in Schenley Park. At that time only one tree was noticeably affected with branch dieback, bark holes and woodpecker damage.
Now only 16 months later nearly all the ashes in Schenley Park are visibly infected and dying. Only the few being treated with insecticide by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy have any chance at survival.
Trees under stress lose their leaves early and that’s exactly what’s happening. Throughout Schenley Park the ash leaves haven’t even bothered to change color. They just fall off. There are usually tufts remaining near the top to show the tree isn’t dead yet. That’s what you see in my photo above.
In this brief period before the other trees drop their leaves, the dying ashes stand out. You can see them in local woodlands and along the road. One such place is a stand of young, dying ash trees on the east side of I-79 just south of the Wexford exit.
Watch for leafless trees with opposite branches and stout twigs. It’s the last gasp of our dying ash trees. By next year they’ll be dead.
(photo by Kate St. John)