Blonding of Ash Tree because of Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been attacking ash trees throughout various areas of the state since 2014, when it was first discovered in NJ. Since then, it has spread through all counties of the state. EAB kills ash trees by damaging the vascular system. This prevents movement of water and nutrients through the tree. 

While it has been here for a while, it has not always been easy to tell if a tree was infested. The signs are subtle at first – mostly just some dead limbs in the crown and a slow thinning of the overall density of the canopy. As pest populations increase the damage moves down the tree from the canopy.  

2022 has been a turning point in EAB detection

Over winter, we’ve watched as trees have seemingly transformed before our eyes. We are now seeing bark missing along the entire trunks and limbs, with piles of bark flakes beneath the trees. This “blonding” is a common symptom of advanced infestation by EAB due to woodpeckers removing the outer bark as they search for EAB larvae and pupae. To learn more about this “blinding” visit our sister website, Peter Todd’s where we’ve explained it in more depth.

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Dangers in dead and declining ash trees

Ash trees have a thin ring of conducting tissue to supply water from the roots to the entire tree. EAB damages these functional water pipes as they feed just beneath the bark. This causes the tree to dry quickly and the structural wood to become prone to cracking. Internal breaks in the structural wood that bear the weight of the tree are often hidden from view by tree bark. As such, limbs can break and fall at any point along the branch at any time. It is not uncommon to have sizable limbs snap 30 feet off the ground on a calm day.  

What should you do if you have an ash tree?

Trunk injections with labeled insecticides can prevent EAB infestation for two seasons. Treatments must begin before major damage has occurred to be successful.  

If you see heavy blonding on an ash tree, it is beyond the point of treatability. It is time to consider removal. EAB causes progressively more injury to trees as time goes by. The dead parts never come back to life.

If you are uncertain if you have ash trees on your property, or what condition your ash trees are in call us at (908) 204-9918. Our Licensed Tree Expert can stop for an evaluation and to make recommendations.