Preparing For the Invasion How Can Co-ops and Condos Deal with Invasive Species

The emerald ash borer is inflicting damage on ash trees in the U.S. (iStock photo)

Second of a two-part article.

Trees have their own natural enemies, but perhaps the most devastating for co-op, condo and HOA communities are invasive species of insects like the emerald ash borer (EAB).

Originating in Asia, this predator of ash trees is now present in 27 states, including New York and New Jersey. Metallic-green in color and measuring just a half-inch long and one-eighth wide, the emerald ash borer is responsible for the death of tens of millions of ash trees in Michigan, where it was first discovered in 2002, and hundreds of millions of trees in the affected parts of the U.S and Canada. The U.S. Forest Service says that the cost for treating, removing and replacing infected ash trees is estimated to be $10.7 billion. Some condo associations in parts of the country with ash trees have addressed the emerald ash borer problem in online announcements.

Diversify Your Landscape

From his experience in working with 55-and-over communities, Paul Kurtz, an entomologist with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, says that ash trees were relatively inexpensive during the 1970s when the communities were being built. “A huge percentage of their street trees are ash,” he says. “When you go in and put in one type of tree rather than diversify, if you do have a problem, your losses are going be greater. One of our main things when we're telling people who are replanting or if they're making a new community up is to diversify your trees because you don't know what new tree threat is around the corner.”

Gerard Marzocca, an operations manager at Integrated Plant Health Care Systems in Branchburg, New Jersey, says communities should be concerned if those ash trees are on the property as they become potential targets. “If these ash trees become victims, and the tree is not being treated, then potentially that tree could end up dying. It all comes down to where are the ash trees, how many of them are there.”

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