Scientists say that years of attacks from beetles are pushing five of the most prominent species of ash tree to the brink of extinction.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature says that tens of millions of trees in the U.S. and Canada have succumbed to the beetles.
The trees classified as “critically endangered” are the green, black, white, pumpkin, and blue ash. The Carolina Ash is also listed as “endangered.”
The beetle in question is an emerald ash borer which was introduced to North America accidentally in the late 1990’s from northeastern Asia. Government officials have tried to slow its spread with insecticides and biological control. These beetles can live for one to two years and before they reach maturity, they most likely have killed one ash tree.
Without any efforts, the ash tree would die out quickly and the cost to replace them would be in the billions. The beetle will eventually make its way to central Europe by 2031. The recent news of this has raised the questions of “specicide” or volunteer extinction of the ash borer in North America.
Whatever the answer is to the question, it’s going to be very costly and needs to be solved fast. If it is not solved, we are not going to have any ash trees left.