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Montana ash trees could be threatened by invasive insect species

Posted at 11:08 AM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 13:08:37-05

BUTTE — An invasive species known as the Emerald Ash Borer could devastate the ash tree population in Montana.

The Emerald Ash Borer eats away at the tree from the inside, killing it within four years. These insects could make their way into Montana through firewood brought from out of state.

"The larva will still be in a tree after you cut it down, even when it looks completely dead and ready to burn. So then you transport it to Montana, for example — those larvae become adults and just travel like wild fire." said Arborist Trevor Peterson with Butte-Silver Bow Parks and Recreation.

Peterson said that the Emerald Ash Borer has already made it to 35 states and worries that Montana is next.

"So for example, Butte will not be planting any ash trees for probably about 100 years." Peterson said.

Within a few years, the ash trees would fall victim to the Ash Borer, costing communities millions.

"If all the trees were infected today, within the next four years, it would cost Butte-Silver Bow between half a million and three quarters of a million dollars to cut them all down if that’s what we decided to do." Peterson said.

For those with ash trees in their backyard, look for D-shaped holes in the bark of the wood; that’s a telling sign that the invasive species has moved in.

"Really be vigilant and make sure we report it as soon as possible because if it broke out in a Montana community and we caught it in time, we might be able to cut down that tree and prevent it from maybe spreading at all, or at least limiting the time that it spreads which could give communities a lot more time to prevent it." Peterson said.