SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A destructive, non-native pest that feasts on ash trees has been confirmed in LaSalle County. The emerald ash borer (EAB) was discovered just north of Peru at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Route 251, the Illinois Department of Agriculture announced today.
Department staff made the discovery while identifying ash trees for removal later this year as part of a survey to determine the extent of the beetle infestation in Illinois. The alert workers noticed distressed ash trees located inside the cloverleaf off-ramps at the intersection and stopped to investigate. Larvae were collected from the trees and submitted to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which confirmed the specimens as EAB larvae.
“Our staff now is surveying ash trees in the surrounding area to define the size of the infestation,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “We also are considering adjustments to an existing quarantine as a result of this new find to limit the artificial spread of this destructive pest.”
The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green beetle native to Asia. Its larvae burrow into the bark of ash trees, causing the trees to starve and eventually die. While the beetle does not pose any direct risk to public health, it does threaten the tree population. Since the emerald ash borer was first confirmed in the Midwest in the summer of 2002, more than 20 million ash trees have died.
The first beetle detection in Illinois occurred last June in a rural Kane County subdivision west of St. Charles. Subsequent finds were made in the northern Cook County communities of Wilmette, Evanston, Winnetka and, most recently, Skokie.
The Illinois Management and Science Advisory Panel, a team of experts that includes representatives from USDA-APHIS, the USDA Forest Service, City of Chicago Bureau of Forestry, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, University of Illinois Cooperative Extension and Morton Arboretum, is coordinating the state’s response to the beetle.
“Our strategy has three components,” Hartke added. “The first is a quarantine to stop the movement of ash wood and ash nursery products out of infested areas. The second involves the removal of infested trees to reduce the population of the ash borer and minimize its potential spread while the third, a comprehensive survey of ash trees in northeastern Illinois to determine the exact extent of the infestation, is completed.”
Areas under quarantine include all of Kane County and parts of northern Cook, western DuPage, northern Kendall and eastern DeKalb counties. More than 400 infested trees were removed this spring at no expense to homeowners as part of the population reduction strategy. An additional 1,000 trees in the region have been surveyed.
The emerald ash borer is difficult to detect, especially in newly-infested trees. Citizens should watch for metallic-green beetles about half the diameter of a penny on or near ash trees that are showing signs of disease or stress. Other signs of infestation in ash trees include D-shaped holes in the bark of the trunk or branches and shoots growing from its base. Anyone who suspects a tree has been infested is urged to contact their county Extension office. For more information, visit www.IllinoisEAB.com on the internet.