Emerald ash borers kill dozens of trees in City of Oneida

Workers in process of removing dead, dying trees and planting new ones at hard-hit local parks

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ONEIDA — Emerald ash borers plague ash trees in Oneida, and the city is working on cutting them down and replacing them.

Parks and Recreation Director Luke Griff surveyed several stumps at Lincoln Park in Oneida and a lone, dead ash tree on Tuesday, dismayed.

“There was nothing wrong with these trees last year,” Griff said. “We came out in April this year, and they looked dead. Whatever they do, the [emerald ash borers] kill trees quick.”

Around 46 ash trees have been cut down already, with more than 30 still needing attention.

“We’ve got a handful at Veteran’s Field that need to come down,” Griff said.

And these are just city-owned trees, the city officials said, adding that the invasive beetle is also plaguing a number of privately-owned trees in neighborhoods throughout the city.

They One Department of Public Works employee was able to pick one tree out from a resident’s backyard at a glance.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, emerald ash borers are invasive beetles from Asia that infest and kill North American ash trees. The beetle has four life stages: adult, egg, larva, and pupa.

New York Invasive Species Information says the emerald ash borer has a one-year life cycle, emerging from ash trees around late May or early June. They plant their eggs in the crevice of bark.

After hatching, the larvae chew through the outer bark and feed on the inner part of the tree. The ash tree is softwood, making it perfect for the larva.

As they feed, they leave winding patterns in the wood. When fully grown, the emerald ash borer will chew its way out of the tree, leaving D-shaped exit holes and beginning its life cycle over again.

The emerald ash borer has infested ash trees across Oneida. As a result, residents can find infested trees and stumps all around Oneida — and they have to go.

“It’s a safety hazard with the trees once they die and limbs start falling,” Griff said.

Oneida has a Tree City USA designation and has kept it for the last 31 years. To keep that designation, Oneida must plant a new tree every year. They’re not under any obligation to replace the trees they’ve cut down, but Griff said it wants to replace what they can.

“You can’t do all of them, but a place like Lincoln Park needs it,” he said.

“Cutting down those trees really opened up the park. We took down seven fully-grown trees. And taking those down, you want to put them back, so people have the shade,” the city’s parks and recreation director added.

To avoid any problems with emerald ash borers in the future, the city planted new oak and maple trees in Lincoln Park.

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