By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ)–The arrival was feared and inevitable. And now an immensely destructive pest has made its way into Baltimore.

Alex DeMetrick reports thousands of the city’s trees are at risk of being destroyed.

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Emerald ash borers aren’t very big, but the damage they cause is.

An invasive species from Asia in its larval worm-like stage, the beetles sever a tree’s vascular system.

First found in Southern Maryland ash trees, they’ve since spread north to Howard County and now for the first time east into Baltimore County.

Ash trees outside Fort McHenry and some in Druid Hill Park are showing strong signs of infestation. The prognosis is not good.

“In the next two to five years, they will begin to cause considerable damage and ultimately will result in the death of all the ash trees, green and white ash trees in the city, unless we take some precautionary steps,” said Erik Dihle, city arborist.

In the greater Baltimore metro area, it’s estimated there are six million ash trees, over 200,00 in Baltimore City.

Statewide, dollar loss from ash borers could hit $20o million in lost nursery, lumber and homeowner costs.

And in dollars to save them, this method demonstrated for the city last year, injects pesticide into the tree, targeting ash borer larvae.

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“It paralyzes them, so they stop feeding, and when they stop feeding they die,” said Rob Gorden, Arborjet.

It’s impossible to treat or remove all the city’s ash trees, but about 5,000 along public sidewalks and public parks might be helped.

“Those are tress we look at first to see which are worth saving, which ones need to be taken out or re-phased in with a different species,” Dihle said.

Because many of the ash trees we pass under every day, are now at risk of passing away in Baltimore.

Emerald ash borers first appeared in the Midwest in 2002.

In Southeast Michigan, forests have since lost 99 percent of their ash trees.

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