Editorial: Don't be duped by EAB accomplices
Dreaded emerald ash borers (EAB) are out to scare homeowners, but their accomplices can be mighty scary as well.
Warnings have been issued about fly-by-night services out to exploit fears about emerald ash borers, according to information from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Property value, energy costs and backyard beauty are all at stake.
Because of the drought, many trees appear to be in poor health. Unscrupulous tree care or lawn maintenance companies are using that to their own advantage.
Most tree care businesses are legitimate, but there have been reports of people going door-to-door telling property owners their trees are infested or immediate treatment is critical. Some companies tell residents emerald ash borers are already in their neighborhood, even though the closest infestation is several counties removed.
So know whether trees on the property are true ash trees. Emerald ash borers attack all species of ash trees except mountain ash, which isn't a true ash. They don't attack any other species. Watch a video at Emerald Ash Borer to learn how to identify an ash tree.
Also know the area's infestation status. Ash trees are at risk if in an area known to be infested; not known to be infested, but under quarantine; or within 15 miles of a known infestation. To see where emerald ash borer has been found in Wisconsin, go to Emerald Ash Borer.
If living more than 15 miles from a known infestation and outside a quarantine county, the trees are probably not infested.
If living in one of those at-risk areas, learn the symptoms of infestation. Symptoms include thinning tree canopy, new branches sprouting at the base or along the trunk of the tree, D-shaped holes in the bark, splitting bark and S-shaped tracks called galleries under the bark. See pictures of damage, as well as the insects themselves, at Emerald Ash Borer. Bear in mind dead branches or new sprouts by themselves are unlikely to be caused by emerald ash borer. The D-shaped exit holes and galleries are the real tell-tale signs in the absence of the adult or larval insects.
Those who have true ash trees, live in an at-risk area and see multiple symptoms should call a certified arborist to make a diagnosis. Visit the Wisconsin Arborist Association at Wis. Arborist Assoc. to find the nearest arborist.
If the arborist determines emerald ash borers have infested the ash trees, he or she may apply treatments. Or contract with a pesticide application business treating trees. Check DATCP to find licensed applicators in the area.
If told an ash is infested with emerald ash borers and given an estimate for treatment or removal of the tree, consider the following:
--Check the Wisconsin EAB Program website. EAB has been found in only a handful of locations in the state. The map of known locations on the website is always current. Do homework on the various products available to treat EAB.
--Call a local, reputable tree care company and compare estimates.
--Check credentials. A business license doesn't necessarily mean extensive knowledge of trees or tree health. A business applying a chemical treatment must have a current DATCP pesticide applicator's license and certification.
--Be wary of any contractor knocking at the door. Call the police or sheriff's department to check them out. See if the business has registered with the municipality and carries appropriate credentials.
--Get a written contract stating exactly what work is to be done and what materials are to be used. Never rely on a verbal commitment.
--Request a copy of the contractor's certificate of liability insurance.
--Call the state's Consumer Information Hotline (800-422-7128) to see if there are significant complaints on file against the company, especially one showing up at the door without prior contact.
An EAB hotline (800-462-2803) is available to homeowners in the state who suspect the presence of these pests on their properties. The hotline gets residents in touch with an EAB specialist who can provide guidance and helpful information for particular situations.
Instead of contracting out, a homeowner might want to take advantage of some pesticides they can apply themselves. These are available at garden or home centers; be sure they're labeled for emerald ash borer. Before applying, read the label thoroughly and follow instructions exactly.
If living in a high-risk area, preventive treatments are recommended. Find out what kinds of treatments are available by visiting Emerald Ash Borer