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Insecticides Offer Some Hope to Save Ash Trees

Now that federal funds have run out, the State of Ohio has halted destroying ash trees infested with the Emerald Ash Borer and has confined efforts to locating infestations and studying the trees' decline. About a quarter of Ohio counties are under quarantine because of the insect. But some Ohioans are fighting back with insecticides to try to save their trees.

It would be impossible to save the billions of ash trees in Ohio because, according to Ohio State University Extension, insecticides cannot eradicate large infestations. But protecting individual trees, though expensive, has been somewhat effective. Amy Stone, an OSU extension educator, says most research has been done at Michigan State.

"What they found is that the results vary," Stone says. "So in some of their studies, efficacy has been 92%. With some of the other studies, they didn't get any control at all."

Treatment is more effective, Stone says, when it starts before the tree is infested. But spending up to $100 for a do-it-yourself treatment is a calculated gamble. Professionally applied products cost around $200 per tree, per year. It would be worth it, Stone says, if the tree has sentimental value or offers shade or beauty to a home.

Some ash tree owners are using a combination of chemicals which also seems to help. But even then Stone says some trees decline and may eventually die. Only two products are available for homeowner application, another nine must be professionally applied.