by Andrea Cole

Associate Editor

Stow -- City officials hope to begin teaching residents about the dangers of the emerald ash borer, an ash tree-eating insect, before it's too late.

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week is scheduled to take place throughout the state May 20 through 26, Stow Landscape Arborist Sue Mottl said.

"We are placing signs near ash trees in different parts of the city," she said. "We want people to, first of all, know what an ash tree looks like. Then, we want to tell people about the magnitude the borer could have on an entire street."

The signs will be placed at Adell Durbin Park, SKiP Playground, Oregon Trail Park and the campground at Silver Springs Park. Signs also will be placed on Bayside Lake Boulevard and Peterboro, Clearbook, Santa Anita and Crown Pointe drives.

Mottl said the insects are infecting trees throughout Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

The emerald ash borer is an exotic beetle that was discovered in southeastern Michigan in 2002, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Web site, www.ohioagriculture.gov/eab. The larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients, and since its discovery, the insects have killed more than 20 million ash trees in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

Mottl said a proclamation will be read by Mayor Karen Fritschel during City Council's April 24 meeting. The proclamation expresses "the importance of the continued cooperation and support of citizens, tourists, communities, governments and industry partners necessary for slowing the spread of the pest to protect the nation's billions of ash trees, all of which are at risk if the insect is not stopped."

Mottl said the nearest infestations have been in Medina and Cuyahoga counties.

"It's not if [the infestation] hits, but when it hits," she said. "People are going to need a lot more education about the emerald ash borer."

For more information, call the Stow Urban Forestry Department at 330-689-5120 or the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 1-888-OHIO-EAB.

E-mail: acole@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3947