Tim Rowland, October 8, 2020
Two insidious invasive insect species now stand poised at the Adirondacks’ southern and northern borders, invaders that have the potential to change the look and ecology of the mountains forever.
To the north in Clinton County (and also in the south) is the emerald ash borer, which attacks lowland ash trees that are often a key component of protective stream buffers and habitat to a number of desirable songbirds. To the south along the shores of Lake George is the woolly adelgid, a tiny creature that can take down the mighty hemlock, one of the more iconic evergreens.
Adirondack property owners whose land is home to hemlock or ash do have some limited defenses against the insects, and a small army of scientists and foresters are working to defend the area as a whole, said Tammara Van Ryn, manager of APIPP, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program.
Although there are insecticides that will kill the bugs, “What you really want to do is keep them out,” Van Ryn said. Treatments are not inexpensive, and practically speaking can only save a few select trees that may be on a landowner’s property. The ash borer is particularly methodical, mowing down every ash in its path, but left to its own devices it is a slow mover, expanding its territory by less than a mile a year.
But it is easily transported in firewood, which is why in New York it is illegal to bring in firewood from other states or transport firewood that has not been kiln dried more than 50 miles from its source.