Jim Abrose started noticing white streaks and small holes on his trees last summer. Since then, he's paid professionals thousands to cut down hundreds of dying trees.
"We have little grandkids you know that like to run around here and that's why we're clearing them out as much as we can but we'll never keep up,” said Ambrose.
The culprit of this destruction is the Emerald Ash Borer, or EAB, according to Melissa Fierke, professor at SUNY ESF. Wood pallets carrying products from China can bring the invasive beetles, which are native to Asia, to the U.S.
"The trees here have never seen anything like it, so they don't have any defenses,” said Fierke.
And watching his trees die all at once has left Ambrose feeling helpless, he said.
"They're going to infest every single ash tree in the country and you can't do anything about it,” said Ambrose.
But there actually is something the city of Syracuse is already doing, said Fierke. The city started releasing tiny parasitic wasps that eat the ash borers' eggs. And this is the first year she's been able to tell that it's working. One of Fierke’s graduate students has been peeling back the bark on ash trees, and has been finding dead ash borers.
"We're hoping for the next generation of ash to have a chance,” said Fierke.
Ash is resilient and widely planted in cities, so the infestation will hit urban areas harder, she said. It’s also economically important; the wood is used for tool handles, baseball bats, flooring and many other things. The ash borer is just one side effect of global trade, said Fierke.
"The boats go both ways,” said Fierke. “They've got some terrible pests from us as well. It's not just, you know that things are coming from China. It can come from anywhere."
If you think your trees have been infested by Emerald Ash Borers, take a photo and send it with the location to firstname.lastname@example.org.