Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Science Friday -- Ash Borer and eclipse

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Aug 18, 2017 4:30 AM
ash tree at risk 600 x 340.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, August 18, 2017:

White Ash was once one of the most prevalent trees in Pennsylvania. It is a hardy, deciduous tree that shades many large areas and is known for its striking fall colors. Pennsylvania provides much of the ash timber that is harvested to make the Louisville Slugger, the official Major League baseball bat. However, ash trees have been vanishing across the state. An invasive species of insect, the Emerald Ash Borer, has been infesting and killing ash trees in 25 states. The pest has the potential to eradicate the entire genus of ash trees within just a few years.

The destructive beetle is native to Northeastern Asia and was first discovered in the United States in 2002. Outside its native land the bug causes devastating affects to North American and Western European forestry. While the adult bugs are relatively harmless, the larvae consume the inner bark of ash trees, disturbing the flow of nutrients and water, and causing tree death if not treated promptly. The bug has destroyed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America since its discovery, and continues to wipe out the trees across the affected states. There are a few measures that can be taken to treat and prevent infestation in individual ash trees, such as quarantine and a bi-annual injection into the trunk of the tree. Forestry experts say the situation is dire but not entirely hopeless, though the economic and ecological effects are irreparable.

Joining us on Smart Talk to discuss the Emerald Ash Borer and the future of ash trees in Pennsylvania are two Forest Entomologists with the Division of Forest Health within DCNR, Dr. Mark Faulkenberry and Timothy Tomon.  


Timothy Tomon and Dr. Mark Faulkenberry - Forest Entomologists, Division of Forest Health, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The first total solar eclipse to be visible in the United States in 38 years is scheduled to occur this Monday, August 21st. The sun, moon and earth will be in a straight line, and will cast an ominous shadow over the earth. This is a rare and exciting occasion for our country, and its being called the "Great American Solar Eclipse."

Though Pennsylvania doesn't fall into the eclipse's "path of totality," locals will be able to witness a partial eclipse between 1 and 4pm, with the maximum coverage of the sun estimated to occur between 2:30 and 2:45pm. Joining us to discuss the eclipse and answer all your questions is Cosmic Mike, Senior Scidome educator at the North Museum in Lancaster.


Cosmic Mike, Senior SciDome educator at the North Museum in Lancaster



- What happens to the emerald ash borers when all the ash trees are gone?  Will they switch to another species to feed on?  This is so sad. We see so many dead ash trees everywhere we go in the state.                  - Lisa

- Please ask your guest about the  thousand canker disease.  I'm in Mifflinburg where most all of the ash are dead. This new disease is supposed to kill the walnut trees and is moving closer to Pa.                              - Sharon

- What areas of the U.S., aside from Pa., is the Ash Borer found? And is climate change affecting their spread?  - George

- Do you actually suggest it, even applied per instructions? This neo-nic has lasting implications to pollinators, especislly honey bee hives, as outlined in the PSU 2008 study.                                            - Flora, Lewisburg

- I have a single beautiful ash tree shading my deck and was warned that it would die 10 years ago, but it is doing fine with no sign of ash bore damage.  Can I save it with preventative measures before I see any signs of the ash bore?     - Janine

- I haven't heard a lot about it but when they turned under the groves in our area we lost our sources of local peaches, I have not heard much about it recently, is there any signs that it is getting better? I think I remember the farmers that had their trees destroyed had to wait 10 years to replant, however, I don't remember when that was.     - anon



Will a welding mask protect you?      - Holly, Denver

- Since glasses are mostly sold out, why aren't we talking about DIY (cereal box) viewing projectors?                                                              - Deborah

- Why are schools refusing to let students see this scientific event? Our family is traveling to TN to see totality and the school denied giving permission for an educational trip??

You also have school like Cumberland valley refusing to let students outside!

FYI test glasses by looking at lights bulbs if you can see them they won't work

call Harrisburg Astronomical Society - they may have glasses.                            -  Kathy

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