A destructive pest that feasts on ash trees has been discovered for the first time in two northern Illinois counties. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) today confirmed infestations of the emerald ash borer (EAB) in Lee and Henry counties.
"In Lee County the beetle was discovered at an industrial site on the east side of Dixon," EAB Program Manager Scott Schirmer said. "The detection in Henry County occurred at Baker Park Golf Course in Kewanee."
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 ash tree canopy.
Currently, 39 Illinois counties are under quarantine to prevent the "man-made" spread of the beetle. The quarantine prohibits the intrastate movement of potentially-contaminated wood products, including ash trees, limbs and branches and all types of firewood. Although the beetle had not been confirmed in Lee County until now, it is located adjacent to infested counties and already is within the quarantine boundaries. Henry County, however, is not.
"The quarantine boundaries will need to be adjusted," Schirmer said. "Meantime, I'd encourage residents of Henry County to put the quarantine guidelines into practice by making sure not to transport any firewood or untreated wood products outside their county of origin. I'd also encourage tree companies, villages and cities to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations pertaining to the processing and transporting of ash materials."
The emerald ash borer is difficult to detect, especially in newly-infested trees. Signs of infestation include the presence of metallic-green beetles about half the diameter of a penny on or around ash trees, thinning and yellowing leaves, D-shaped holes in the bark of the trunk or branches and basal shoots.
Since the beetle was first confirmed in the Midwest in the summer of 2002, it has killed more than 25 million ash trees. Anyone who suspects a tree may be infested is urged to contact either their county Extension office, village forester or the IDOA. For more information, visitwww.IllinoisEAB.com.