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Invasive insects killing Onondaga County ash trees

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Ash tree

Officials continue to track the movement of the Emerald Ash Borer in Central New York.

Jessi Lyons of the Onondaga County Emerald Ash Borer Task Force says the parts of the Syracuse areas that are seeing the most activity right now are in transportation corridors.

“We’re starting to see a really rapid decline in some areas. It’s been slowly building, but now the evidence is very apparent.  So if you go 481 near Kirkville, Minoa, 690, a lot of those trees are ash trees and you’re going to see decline,” said Lyons. “If you look back at the wood lots away from the freeways, a lot of those trees are completely dead now.”

The Emerald Ash Borer is a small invasive green bug that infests and kills all species of ash trees, which make up 13 percent of the trees in this part of the state. 

"If you look out towards farms, and the fields and forests, beyond, you’re going to start to see a lot of trees that don’t have leaves,” said Lyons. “So everything around you is going to be green, and you’re going to see stark brown trees with nothing on them, or they’re starting to lose a lot of leaves.  You’re also going to see big pale patches where woodpeckers have been eating the Emerald Ash Borer.”

It was first detected in Onondaga County three years ago. Onondaga County and the city of Syracuse have prepared a management plan that involves cutting down most of the ash trees on government property, and trying to save the rest.

Lyons also says private property owners should treat ash trees as soon as possible, because the insect will ultimately kill all the ash in the area. 

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.