Arborist Works to Preserve Ash Trees on Campus

Lsam-adams-02andscape Services arborist Sam Adams has been working diligently to save campus trees from an invasive insect.

The emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle that can kill an ash tree in as little as three years, was first documented in East Tennessee in 2010 and has affected ash trees on campus. The adult beetles nibble on foliage but cause little damage. However, their larvae feed on the inner bark of the tree, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients.

In hopes of controlling the insect’s impact, this summer Adams began treating selected ash trees on campus using a trunk-injected systemic insecticide. When injected into the trees, the pesticide is consumed by the larvae and the life cycle of the female is disrupted.

Adams and the Landscape Services team are trying to save mature trees located prominently on campus. One example is the ash tree located at the Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. It is the only large tree in the area that was saved during construction of the facility. All ash trees on campus have been affected by the beetle.

“The original tree inventory on campus from 2006 documented ninety-four ash trees,” Adams said. “I reviewed that inventory in July and concluded that only twelve of these trees remain at least 70 percent intact. These will be treated accordingly for emerald ash borer.”

sam-adams-01From that original inventory, sixty trees have been either removed or deemed not healthy enough to effectively treat due to advanced infestation.

“We are going to replace all of the removed trees with appropriate species for the area,” Adams said. “We are saving the ones we can and will protect them.”

Landscape Services will treat the remaining ash trees every two years while monitoring their condition.

“We are focused on saving big trees to protect the canopy of the campus as much as we can,” said Adams. “The vision is to save the ones that can be conserved and protect them more carefully from now on.”

C O N T A C T : 

Brooke Krempa (bsteve14@utk.edu)