Queen's to protect ash trees on campus
By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer
Queen’s University is taking steps to protect its ash trees after the presence of the emerald ash borer in Kingston was announced by the city. The beetle, an invasive species in Canada, can have devastating effects on ash tree populations if the appropriate treatments are not used.
“The larvae of the ash borer, which only infest ash trees, tunnel below the bark and feed on the tree, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients. This usually leads to the tree’s death within three years,” says Matthew Barrett, Queen’s Grounds Manager, an International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborist. “We have roughly 60 ash trees on campus, including a number of specimens nearing 100 years old. We want to make sure those irreplaceable trees are protected.”
Although no evidence of the ash borer has yet been found in the university’s trees, the City of Kingston confirmed the presence of the beetle locally in early July and reported its findings to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is responsible for tracking the scope of the infestation. Along with the city, which is in the processes of planning its treatment schedules, Queen’s will use a safe insecticide injection to protect its ash trees.
“The insecticide we use, TreeAzin, is injected directly into the tree — not sprayed — and presents little environmental risk. It’s a safe, responsible solution to a potentially devastating infestation” says Mr. Barrett, who also holds an Ontario exterminator’s licence and will conduct the tree injections himself. “The product is derived from botanical sources and degrades naturally within tree tissues. It poses little risk to bystanders, pets or the surrounding environment. It is a treatment that has been deemed safe for use in urban settings.”
Queen’s community members may see signs on campus over the coming weeks about the insecticide use. The signs will be posted in advance of the treatments, which will begin on August 19 and continue until the end of the month. Some trees will be treated this year, with others to be done next year. All trees must be re-treated every two to three years while the risk of ash borer infestation remains.
“I’d encourage anyone who would like more information on the ash borer or the treatment we are using to contact me by email or at 613-533-6048,” adds Mr. Barrett. “Or simply stop to talk if you see me out doing treatments around Main or West campuses.”