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Chicago Emerald Ash Borer Central

Latest Emerald Ash Borer Information

Emerald Ash Borer in Hazel Crest

Posted by Ron Wolford -

The Emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that has left an estimated 25-million ash trees dead or dying in the U.S. and Canada, has opened a new front in its war on trees: south suburban Cook County. As the borer keeps turning up through Chicagoland, more communities are bracing for unexpected costs that will no doubt strain municipal budgets and resources.

A Morton Arboretum staffer this week found that six "Trap Trees" - among 650 set up in 2005 and 2006 to detect the borers through Northern Illinois - contained larvae, which state officials later determined was Emerald ash borer (EAB). The infested trees - set up in 2005 - are on Hazel Crest public works property near the municipal composting and burning facility. The property is part of what's called Open Lands, near the 170th and California interchange.

The Arboretum conducts the Trap Tree program in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and with funding from the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Trap Trees in 2006 detected EAB near Elgin, Batavia, and in Campton Township. As with the other finds, experts will use additional survey methods around the Hazel Crest find to determine the size of the infestation's "footprint." Already, it appears that dozens of additional trees are infested.

The find is significant and an urgent reminder that communities must act, says Arboretum arborist and Community Trees Advocate Edith Makra, who also serves on the governor's Management and Science Advisory Panel for EAB.

"While this find is highly disappointing, it's no surprise. EAB detection has been very challenging and other municipalities may be already infested, though unaware. Hazel Crest is isolated from other finds in the region, pointing out once again that EAB could be anywhere. Communities should inventory and assess their trees, and plan to replace ash trees eventually," Makra says.

The Morton Arboretum and the South Suburban Mayors and Managers' Association (SSMMA) have scheduled a forum where state, federal, University of Illinois Extension, and Arboretum experts will brief public officials on EAB. It will be January 23 at 3:00 PM at SSMMA offices at 1904 West 174th Street, in East Hazel Crest.

Since June of 2006, Emerald ash borer has been detected in four Illinois counties: Cook, DuPage, Kane, and LaSalle. It is expected to cost municipalities, private propertyowners, and the nursery industry billions of dollars in losses.

One in five trees in the Chicago urban area is ash, and there are an estimated 130-million ash trees in Illinois, therefore a large EAB infestation would be devastating to Illinois.

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