Big Changes in Store for UConn's Trees and Yours
The picturesque views of lush forest and rolling hills for which Horsebarn Hill is known are in for a big change over the next several years. Changes are already evident, with signs that an invader has arrived: the Emerald Ash Borer.
Though attractive in appearance – it belongs to a family known as jewel beetles – this small, shiny insect’s arrival is very bad news for ash trees.
After hatching from inconspicuous eggs laid on the tree’s trunk, Borer larvae chew their way through the tree’s actively growing outer layer just beneath the bark, an area called the cambium. This is the layer that gives rise to the annual growth rings, and it is vital for the transportation of water and nutrients throughout the tree. This tunneling cuts circulation to areas of the tree both above and below the damaged tissues; and if enough larvae feed on a tree at once, the tree can die in as little as two years.
The adult Borers are only 3/8 to 1/2 inch long, 1/16 inch wide, and live for just three to six weeks; they are rarely seen. The larvae are 1½ to 2 inches long, and feed on ash bark for one to two years.
The Emerald Ash Borer is native to northeastern Asia. Since it was first detected in North America in 2002, it has left millions of dead trees in its wake as it spread across the country, finally arriving in Connecticut in 2012
“The Ash Borer has devastated the ash population,” says University arborist John Kehoe. “Until recently, the Borer hadn’t been reported in Mansfield, but it’s making an impact now. We especially need to watch out in the UConn Forest.”