If You Have This Common Tree in Your Yard, Prepare to Cut It Down, Officials Say

There are mass removals occurring this fall, and getting rid of this tree may not be your choice.

Having trees in your yard is a welcome aesthetic addition—the benefits for your health and well-being are just an icing on the cake. If you're lucky enough to have a few leafy friends outside your home, you probably don't want to see them cut down, but unfortunately, that may not be up to you. One common tree species is currently being removed, and any trees on your property might have to be the next to go. Read on to find out which tree officials are asking the public to cut down.

READ THIS NEXT: If You Have This Tree in Your Yard, Kill It and Cut It Down, Experts Warn.

One invasive species is posing a grave threat.

emerald ash borer dangerous bugs in america
Shutterstock

The emerald ash borer, sometimes referred to as EAB, is a "destructive wood-boring" invasive species, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Originally from Asia, the emerald green beetle was first detected in the U.S. in 2002. Since that time, it has killed "untold millions of ash trees" in North America, having been detected in 35 U.S. states, according to the 2019 North Central IPM Center Bulletin on the EAB.

Adult emerald ash borers have that signature bright green color, but their larvae are the main source of concern for ash trees, Charles van Rees, PhD, conservation scientist, naturalist, and founder of the Gulo in Nature blog, previously told Best Life. The larvae feed on vascular tissues, carving S-shaped galleries through the inner bark and interrupting "the necessary movement of water and sap up and down the tree's trunk," van Rees said, adding that the process is comparable to internal bleeding in humans.

Ash trees die rather quickly when they're unable to move water and sugar, according to van Rees, and as insecticides are pretty much ineffective once an EAB infestation reaches a certain point, officials have been forced to take action.

Nearly 1,500 trees are being cleared in three cities.

felling ash tree
Peter Titmuss / Shutterstock

If you live in Nashville, Tennessee, you'll soon be saying goodbye to surrounding ash trees. According to a press release posted on the Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation Facebook page, the city is cutting down over 469 trees damaged by the emerald ash borer between late Oct. 2022 and the end of March 2023. Similar efforts are ongoing in Garden City, New York, where close to 1,000 trees will come down, Patch reported. Back in July, officials in Papillon, Nebraska, cut down seven 40-year-old ash trees, per ABC-affiliate KETV.

"The ash tend to go down. And that's the real problem with getting them off the edges of the walks and the playgrounds … is knowing full well that this is what happens with trees that die from the emerald ash borer," Randall Lantz, superintendent for horticulture for Metro Parks in Nashville, told WPLN News, referring to the fact that trees with an EAB infestation have brittle branches and trunks that could fall and create a safety hazard for passersby.

Without treatment, the city expects to lose all of its ash trees to the invasive beetle by 2026, per Nashville's information page on the EAB, and the latest effort is being made to curtail that. All of the trees marked to come down during phase one are within public Metro Parks, but officials may be heading to your yard next.

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There's a simultaneous effort to address trees on private property.

looking up at ash trees
alpinenature / Shutterstock

Officials say the ash trees really have no chance once the invasive beetle has burrowed beneath their bark, and chopping trees down is a way to keep those that are not yet infested safe. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, the beetle will only travel between one half to one mile from the infested site, so clearing trees can help prevent some of the spread.

In Nashville, tree removal is extended beyond parks, as there's a separate effort to "coordinate cutting on private properties," WPLN reported. The also involves providing replacement trees that you can plant.

No additional details were provided. According to a document published by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, there are "no provisions for the removal of trees on private property." But in Nashville, there is a city-wide ordinance that requires a tree removal permit for "protected trees." These are defined as those six inches or larger in diameter on private properties "greater than those for one or two family home residences."

Take a second to inspect your ash trees.

emerald ash borer damage
K Steve Cope / Shutterstock

It's disappointing to hear about such a mass removal of trees, but if you have an infested tree in your yard, officials do say it's best to cut it down now. According to the press release from Metro Parks Nashville, the mortality rate for trees infested with the EAB is "near 100 percent within ten years."

It can be challenging to detect signs of the beetle early on, as there is often no visible damage for the first three years, according to the USDA. That being said, stay vigilant when inspecting your ash trees, as you may notice dying branches at the top of the tree, more branches on the tree trunk, yellowing or wilted leaves, and D-shaped exit holes on the bark, which the adult emerald ash borer forms when it emerges between May and early June.

These signs indicate that your tree is already at the mercy of the emerald ash borer, and you should report any suspected infestation to local officials (and the USDA) for next steps. You can use this helpful guide from Purdue University to determine whether your ash trees are worth saving, and when they need to go, you can also consult a professional arborist or tree removal service. For trees that you "must remove," Nashville also encourages planting replacement trees.

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