BAR HARBOR, Maine — Acadia National Park is celebrating and protecting its healthy forests this Arbor Day by sacrificing two small ash trees for science.
“Emerald ash borer (EAB) has been called the most destructive insect pest to threaten US forests,” remarked park superintendent Sheridan Steele. “We selected two trees in high visibility and high risk areas — Blackwoods Campground and Sieur de Monts—that were eventually going to be cut anyway so they can serve as monitoring trees and to increase public awareness of this threat.”
Because adult emerald ash borer beetles are tiny — about the width of a pencil — and start to infest trees from the top down, they are very difficult to see. In addition to the ubiquitous purple box traps being deployed around the state, a limited number of ash trees are being girdled by having the bark removed as part of a coordinated ash tree monitoring strategy by state and federal agencies.
Girdled ash trees put out chemicals that are highly attractive to any EAB in the area. The trees will be cut and inspected late next winter for EAB larva to determine if the insects have been moved into those areas on firewood.
During Maine Arbor Day Week, May 19-26, National Park Service employees will be marking ash trees in Sieur de Monts and Blackwoods Campground. Purple flagging and temporary signs will be placed on ash trees to help visitors learn to identify ash trees, note their abundance, and discover more about the threat posed by EAB.
Ash trees are dying by the millions across the middle of the country, and now these destructive pests are on Maine’s doorstep in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Emerald ash borer beetles were introduced near Detroit, Michigan, probably in wooden packing materials, and since discovery in 2002 have spread over more than 2,000 miles — mostly by people carrying infested firewood.
With EAB on our doorstep in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and with many campgrounds in the area, the mid-coast of Maine is at high risk for the destructive beetle’s next jump.
For more information about the threat posed by emerald ash borer, go to www.maine.gov/eab.
For more information on Maine Forest Service’s Project Canopy and the GrowSmart Maine program, go to http://www.projectcanopy.me/