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Trees: Ash

The bugs were gnawing away at the ash tree and the sawdust fell like sprinkles on the dinner plate of the guest below the branches. The tree was an American Ash and the diner was my Aunt Mary Agnes Evans. The sawdust looked like Parmesan cheese topping on Mary Agnes’ salad, beef tenderloin and gravy.

The occasion was my dad’s marriage to Marion “Dicky” Marshall Oliver. And what a grand occasion it was! Our singing group, the Jones Falls Express, had just performed a set of our greatest hits and were headed back to the bar. The guests spotted the sawdust as kept falling and drifting in a slight breeze into the blue hair of the fragile aunties below.

The atmosphere was warm and supportive as night fell and the lightning bugs came out. We listened to music, danced a bit, gave rousing toasts, and told family stories. We danced politely and swapped backyard tales with other guests in the moonlight.

When the speeches and grand-eloquent toasts were over, Carlton, the fabulous local caterer, helped clean up the tables and we prepared the yard for the table removal the next day.

Soon we went to bed, satisfied that the yard had looked perfect for the party. We were all thrilled with the new union and very happy that Dad had found Dicky.

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ash borer

Emerald Ash Borer on Lincoln head penny for size perspective

The next morning the Ash tree branch was hanging down very low. It did not snap, but it hung inches from touching the ground. It was right where the tables had been the night before. Hanging by a single strand, we stared in amazement at our good fortune to have had the branch above our heads for the whole party.

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Although the date of the ash branch falling may be before the invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle, there is no disputing that this small beetle has he-man strength that can tear down a tree like a slow moving power saw. http://www.emeraldashborer.info/ 

According to arborists, the Emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is an exotic beetle that was discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia. As of October 2018, the beetle is now found in 35 states, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

Since its discovery, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has:

  • Killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America.
  • Caused regulatory agencies and the USDA to enforce quarantines and fines to prevent potentially infested ash trees, logs or hardwood firewood from moving out of areas where EAB occurs.
  • Cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars.