Catskills ash trees probably doomed by ash borer

Adam Bosch at the Times Herald-Record had a terrifying story on Saturday about the newfound emerald ash borer infestation in the Catskills. Apparently, things are far, far worse that we originally thought:

"My best guess is that there are thousands of trees infested," said Mark Whitmore, a forest entomologist at Cornell University who's assisting the investigation. "The bug is here to stay, and we're looking at maybe having all of the ash trees disappear." New York is home to some 900 million ash trees, accounting for 7 percent of the forest.

Since the Department of Envionmental Conservation's July announcement that ash borers had been found in Saugerties, ash borers and their larvae have been found across Ulster County and possibly in Greene County as well. Bosch writes that because the beetles can infest trees for a while without any discernible signs, the infestation might already be a few years old.

The beetles can live in an area for years before signs of infestation appear, like dead canopies of ash trees or pin-size holes in their trunks. Initial evidence suggests the ash borer has been here for one or two years.

And, because there is no "chemical or natural method" of killing the beetles, there isn't that much that can be done.

At the Kingston Report, Bosch posted some photographs which show exactly how grim-reaper-ish the ash borer is:

We mentioned a startling discovery in Ruby, a small hamlet in Ulster County, where experts stripped the bark from a tree and found a huge labyrinth that the beetle’s larvae had carved into the wood. These carvings are known as “galleries” and they’re ultimately what kills the ash tree by stopping water and nutrients from spreading throughout the plant. This story is scary, but the photo is even scarier. Here’s a photo of the tree found in Ruby. See all the S-shaped carvings? That’s the lavae killing the tree.