Stem injection treatment "effective" against US tree plague, researchers say

Support for stem injection of pesticides to combat invasive tree pests has come from US research which looked at the effect of such treatment on the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive tree-boring beetle.

Image: USDA
Image: USDA

The researchers, from the University of Illinois and the USDA Forest Service, investigated the effectiveness over a four-year period of emamectin benzoate injections in alternate years in trees showing initial EAB infestation in an ash forest in central Ohio.

"Results indicate that emamectin benzoate-treated trees exhibited less canopy decline relative to non-treated control trees over the course of the experiment," they concluded.

All untreated trees died over the four-year period, while treated trees generally did not exhibit a significant decline. Initially healthy and moderately EAB impacted trees treated with insecticide either maintained or improved their canopy condition, while initially heavily EAB impacted trees stabilized, declined slightly, or died.

"By using trunk injections of emamectin benzoate, private and public landowners may effectively be able to preserve lightly or moderately EAB-infested trees, or delay the replacement of ash trees at varying levels of infestation," the researchers suggested.

Treatment of trees with emamectin benzoate, a naturally occurring insecticide, is already being developed in the UK as a control against oak processionary moth and Asian longhorn beetle.

EAB is also present in Eastern Europe and is expected to reach the UK in the coming decades.

The results are published in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

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