LANCASTER, N.Y. (WKBW) — Drive across Western New York and you will be amazed by the huge number of dead ash trees.
Over the past decade, an invasive insect called the emerald ash borer has killed and continues to kill ash trees at an incredible rate.
"We are expecting most of our ash trees to be gone unless people are pro-actively treating them," said Tom Anderson, an arborist and assistant district manager for The Davey Tree Expert Company.
A good example of the insect's destruction can be seen in Erie County's Como Lake Park in Lancaster.
Over the past few months, 200 dead ash trees have been cut down with more to go.
"When ash trees die, they dehydrate and become brittle," explained Anderson.
The situation was made worse by strong winter winds which brought down trees and limbs - and raised concerns there could be many more dangling branches still on trees.
"It is going to be a busy year for municipalities and tree companies," added Anderson.
With the warm weather approaching, now is the best time to have an expert inspect your ash trees.
Since the trees have no foliage, it is easier to see if an ash tree is affected and how bad the infestation might be.
Warning signs include peeling bark, 'D'-shaped holes where the ash borer digs out from the tree, 'zig-zag' marks under the bark and falling branches.
If caught early enough, injections can save a tree.
Anderson said on-average injections can cost about $150/tree and last for a couple years.
However, if an ash tree is too far gone, it creates a serious safety hazard to people and property.
Removal is recommended but can be expensive ranging from $500 to $5,000, depending on the tree size and location, said Anderson.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more on why property owners should take steps to check the status of their ash trees for safety and financial planning purposes.