CFIA steps up emerald ash borer control measures

Looking to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer in Southwestern Ontario, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is prohibiting the movement of ash tree

Last updated on May 04, 23

Posted on Jul 17, 09

3 min read

Looking to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer in Southwestern Ontario, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is prohibiting the movement of ash tree articles and firewood of all species from specific areas in this part of the province. Human activity has been the primary way the beetle has been spreading to new areas.

PESTY The little beetle has become a big headache in southwestern Ontario.
PESTY The little beetle has become a big headache in southwestern Ontario.

“We do put the regulations in place to slow the spread of emerald ash borer because right now the highest risk is human-assisted movement of potentially infested materials,” explained Mary Orr, plant health network specialist with the CFIA.

To limit the spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB), ministerial orders have been enacted restricting the movement of ash tree articles and firewood, specifically the movement of ash nursery stock, ash trees, ash logs, ash wood, rough lumber and other wood packaging materials from ash, bark, wood chips or bark chips from ash, and firewood from all tree species that have not been treated to eliminate EAB. Those who move these articles from regulated areas without prior permission from the CFIA could face fines and/or prosecution.

Ministerial orders for EAB also extend to vehicles that are used to carry these items.

The previous control orders for Chatham Kent, and Elgin, Middlesex, Lambton County and Essex counties have been repealed and these areas are now regulated under one new order.
Huron County is now a regulated area, as is Norfolk County so that the measures in place are consistent in all regulated areas in Ontario and Quebec.

While it appears that the beetle has not made its way over to the Region of Waterloo, the area  is being monitored.

“We have not found emerald ash borer  in [that] area as yet,” said Orr.

“You are in fairly close proximity to other regulated areas so, we would request the public’s assistance in keeping their eyes open and looking at their ash trees for signs or symptoms of emerald ash borer,” she said, noting that a list of symptoms can be found at the CFIA website

Although the borer has already killed a large number of ash trees in Ontario and throughout the northeastern United States, it does not spread quickly on its own. Consequently, the CFIA is focusing its efforts on preventing the movement of potentially infested articles such as logs, branches, nursery stock, wood chips and firewood.

Woolwich Coun. Mark Bauman, who has been monitoring the movement, underscored the importance of these measures, noting that people should not transfer wood to and from their cottages.

“If it gets into the forest areas of this area it’s going to be devastating: there’s no doubt about it,” he said in an interview, adding that ash is a common tree throughout the region.

“It’s going to  have a significant impact on the woodlots in the Waterloo Region and even the health of other trees: if you lose a significant species in your woodlot, it’s going to weaken the overall forest structure,” said Bauman, likening the potential threat to the blight of Dutch elm disease which hit the area in the 1970s.

“You’re at the mercy of a bug that’s a couple centimetres long.”

The emerald ash borer was first discovered in Windsor and Detroit in 2002. It is believed that it was introduced to North America from eastern Asia in wood packing material in the early 1990s, but went undetected until its population built up to damaging levels, the CFIA reports.

Laying its eggs on the bark of ash trees, ash borer larvae feed on the material underneath the tree bark, affecting the vascular system of the tree, cutting off the supply of nutrients to the top of the tree, and eventually killing it, Orr explained. Some trees may show some slight signs of resistance but overall the insect is incredibly destructive.

“We’ve seen a lot of mortality in trees throughout Ontario.”

Research in combating the beetle is underway, said Orr, noting that one company, for instance, is looking at protecting trees with Treeazin, a natural product derived from the neem tree.

The CFIA, along with the Canadian  Forest Service, is also conducting  research on predatory wasps that are native to Ontario.

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Marc Miquel Helsen

Marc Miquel Helsen is a former full-time journalist / photographer at The Observer.

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