Tree Killing Beetle found in Southern Illinois

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

                        A destructive pest that feasts

                      on ash trees has been confirmed in two new Illinois

                      counties.  The emerald ash borer (EAB) recently was

                      discovered just north of Salem in Marion County and

                      at the Green Creek Rest Area on Interstate 57 in

                      Effingham County.  The beetle now has been confirmed

                      in 20 counties in Illinois, with the latest

                      detections being the first time the insect has been

                      located in southern Illinois.

                        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, there are 25 counties in the

                      northeastern and central part of the state included

                      in an EAB quarantine issued by the Illinois

                      Department of Agriculture to prevent the “man-made”

                      spread of the beetle; however, Marion and Effingham

                      counties are not within those quarantine boundaries.

                        “With these latest finds, the quarantine boundaries

                      will need to be adjusted.  However, changes will not

                      be made until all the purple traps that were placed

                      throughout the state to monitor the movement of the

                      beetle have been harvested and analyzed,” Warren

                      Goetsch, IDOA bureau chief of Environmental Programs,

                      said.  “EAB is a sneaky traveler, which is why it is

                      important that everyone, even those counties not

                      currently inside the quarantine zone, put the

                      quarantine guidelines into practice by keeping all

                      firewood and untreated wood products from movement

                      outside of its county of origin.”

                         The EAB detection in Marion County resulted                                                         from a find on one of those monitoring traps.  The

                      trap was located in a rural residential area situated

                      about a mile east of I-57 and a mile north of US 50.

                      While the IDOA was making a visit to the site, staff

                      observed distressed ash trees in Effingham County

                      along the I-57 corridor.  When they stopped to

                      inspect the trees they found live EAB larvae.

                              “EAB detections are occurring with increasing

                      frequency along major highways and railways or near

                      major intersections, which suggests that the stealthy

                      beetle may be spreading to new locations through

                      transportation corridors,” EAB Program Manager Scott

                      Schirmir said. “We can determine with relative

                      certainty that these infestations occurred before any

                      quarantines were put in place, so there is no

                      suspicion of violation.”

                        With these recent finds in southern Illinois, IDOA

                      officials strongly encourage a heightened awareness

                      of stressed and weakened ash trees.  Local and

                      regional tree companies, villages and cities should

                      consider the Illinois Department of Agriculture's

                      compliance agreement program and familiarize

                      themselves with rules and regulations pertaining to

                      the processing and transport of ash materials.

                        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.

                        Since the emerald ash borer was first confirmed in

                      the Midwest in the summer of 2002, more than 25

                      million ash trees have been felled by the beetle.

                      Anyone who suspects a tree has been infested is urged

                      to contact either their county Extension office or

                      village forester.  For more information, visit

                      www.IllinoisEAB.com.