PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The brilliant fall foliage is putting on a show in Frick Park with leaves bursting yellow, red and orange.
But, this year, one major player won’t be making an appearance. Nearly all of the park’s ash trees are dead or dying.
They are gone thanks to a predatory beetle from China.
Since hopping a shipment into the United States six years ago, the Emerald Ash Borer has been eating its way through thousands of trees in our city’s parks and more than a million countywide.
They have killed about 15 percent of our tree population.
“It’s a dead tree. So, it’s easy to pull off the bark, [and] you can see some of these insect galleries in here,” Erin Copeland, of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, says of one of the dead trees in the park.
The beetle’s larvae tunnel below the bark and devour the tree’s nutrient-supplying floam, literally starving the tree to death.
It’s too late to save most of the trees, but all is not lost.
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy did think to inoculate some ash trees with an insecticide a few years back, and so about 100 trees will continue to thrive.
The conservancy is also taking other steps as well.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “So you’re planting other trees now?”
Copeland: “Yes, this is a Black Gum tree. It’s a tree that’s native to our region.”
With the help of citizen tree lovers, the conservancy is planting more and more saplings in the park, while cutting down and removing many of the dead ash trees. And other kinds of trees are taking root without any help at all.
The passing of the ash tree is a sad thing for naturists, but Mother Nature is resilient. On her own and with some help from the conservancy, they’re already being replaced.