The City of Winnipeg is ramping up efforts to create an inventory of ash trees. Crews are searching backyards and back lanes to count and inspect ask trees, in danger because of a devastating pest, the emerald ash borer beetle.

The city says it’s not a matter of if the emerald ash borer beetle will show up, which feeds on and kills the trees, but when.

“It will kill all ash trees and all species off ash,” said city forester Martha Barwinsky.

Barwinsky said the inventory will help identify the level of risk, help figure out the areas of the city with the highest potential risk, and identify the resources the city will need to dedicate to the problem.

Already, the emerald ash borer is destroying trees in Quebec, Ontario, and 21 states, including Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Ash trees are old trees that make 30 per cent of Winnipeg’s canopy. There are about 103,000 of the trees in Winnipeg parks and along boulevards, but it’s not known how many stand on private property.

Working outside on a sunny day in her garden, Julie Lamoureux appreciates the cover from her ash trees.

“These are great trees they shade our house all summer, they block the wind, so we’d definitely be sad to see them go,” said Lamoureux, who had city crews inspect her trees Wednesday.

“So far the pest hasn’t been discovered in Manitoba. Signs of an infected tree can be spotted on the bark. D-shaped holes, and heavy woodpecker feeding are potential signs, as well as green shoots growing out of the tree.

Pest Prevention

Treeazin is a pesticide that can slow the progression of the emerald ash borer, but the city doesn’t recommend it as it’s only available for commercial use.

The city said the best prevention is catching the beetle quickly, and if a tree is found to be infected, having it cut it down.

The beetle can spread from firewood, lumber, or bark chips. All these types of wood can contain the insect’s larvae.

Wood from another province should not be transported into Manitoba.