The tiny bug known for killing millions of trees across America has also been exposed as a threat to human lives and property.

The invasive emerald ash borer, not much larger than a grain of rice, has also killed thousands of ash trees throughout Western New York.

Recent high winds brought on by a polar vortex have taken down trees and power lines, including dead trees where the ash borer has literally sucked the life out of them. 

Greg Sojka, owner of Greg’s Tree Service in Lancaster said a large, mature ash tree falling on a roof can do serious damage, and he recalled one especially devastating accident.

“Through the house, through the attic, and I was cutting up an ash tree, 75-80 foot, two-foot in diameter, and I was cutting it up on the guy’s bed.”

Sojka is a strong believer in treating ash trees against the little tree killer, “If you are not going to commit to treating your ash trees, you have to be proactive in removing the tree. because it is going to become a problem.”

The tree service contractor added, “These ash trees, if they are not treated, are a time bomb,”
and the longer a homeowner waits to take action, the more expensive it can get to remove an ash tree, because the tree service’s insurance carrier might balk at taking down trees in back yards that are too far gone.
There have been claims that, just as the polar vortex’s high winds have exposed the dead trees killed by the emerald ash borer, those stiff frigid winds have also taken a toll on the little killer insect itself.

Sojka said that is partially true. Temperatures down to -20 and -30 degrees have slowed the spread of the emerald ash borer in places such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, but we have not seen that kind of cold in New York.