MORRISON – Whiteside County will be added to the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s quarantine list after a single emerald ash borer beetle was found at the fairgrounds.
The single adult beetle, the closest find to date in Illinois to the Iowa border, was discovered July 10, after a forestry technician with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources alerted a Department of Agriculture specialist of a distressed ash tree.
The state’s emerald ash borer program manager, Scott Schirmer, then found the dead beetle and sent it to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service, which confirmed that it was an emerald ash borer late Friday, IDOA spokesman Jeff Squibb said.
“From what I’ve been told, there are other distressed trees, so the probability is certainly there for larger infestation [at the fairgrounds],” Squibb said. “But we haven’t been able to confirm that. So right now, it’s highly localized.”
Finding a single beetle isn’t unusual, Squibb said, but it is rare, and usually occurs along a transportation route, where the beetle’s transportation may have been assisted by vehicles, trains or contaminated products.
“Experience has shown we’re moving it a lot faster than the beetle can move on its own,” Squibb said. “[An] adult beetle is half the diameter of a penny and metallic green. People will notice the symptoms before they see the beetle.”
The beetle is native to Asia, and was first detected in the U.S. in 2002, in Detroit, and have killed more than 25 million trees since then, the IDOA said in a statement.
Symptoms include thinning and yellowing of leaves, and D-shaped holes in the bark, branches, trunk and basal shoots, the IDOA said.
Because a tree can be infested for years without showing symptoms, the best weapon the state has is the quarantine, Squibb said.
There are treatments, which should be done before the first sign of symptoms, but no treatment has proved to be 100 percent effective, he said.
Treating an infected tree will prolong its life, but won’t cure it, so most ash trees will have to be removed. That doesn’t need to happen immediately in Whiteside County, Squibb said.
County residents and municipalities should take an inventory of all ash trees on their property so they know which ones may have to be removed, but should consult a tree expert before removing a tree, he said.
If trees are removed, Squibb recommended replacing them with variety, so a disease or pest in the following years won’t wipe out a large portion of area trees.
What the quarantine means
Whiteside County will join 41 counties already quarantined because of the emerald ash borer, including Lee and Ogle.
The quarantine prohibits the removal of the following items from a county:
– The emerald ash borer in any living stage of development.
– Ash trees of any size.
– Ash limbs and branches.
– Any cut, nonconiferous firewood.
– Bark and ash wood chips larger than 1 inch.
– Ash logs and lumber with either the bark or the outer 1-inch of sapwood, or both, attached.
– Any item made from or containing the wood of the ash tree that is capable of spreading the emerald ash borer.
– Any other article, product or means of conveyance determined by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to present a risk of spreading the beetle infestation.
Go to www.IllinoisEAB.com or call 217-785-5575 for more information.