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Emerald Ash Borer in Livingston County

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

The Emerald Ash Borer Dilemma

Emerald Ash borer was detected in Chenoa in 2008 by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and is part of the state of Illinois' Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine. Being part of the quarantine means that it is unlawful to transport firewood across the quarantine line into the protected area of the state for fear of spreading the larva form of the pest in ash or ash products, including firewood. This infamous pest, among other means, has spread by transporting firewood across Illinois killing millions of Ash trees in the last few years. In 2014, emerald ash borer has been detected in 3 new counties in northern Illinois; Carroll, Stephenson, and Vermillion. Kelly Estes, states "Emerald Ash Borer has been in confirmed in 33 Illinois counties, and over 270 Illinois communities, and these numbers continue to increase. Nearly half of the state is under State level quarantine with 49 counties included, and the entire state is federally quarantined. Minimizing the artificial spread via ash material movement remains the focus of the quarantine and regulations, and there is also a strong effort in education and outreach in an attempt to make Illinois residents and visitors knowledgeable of the situation, and what they can do to help prevent further spread of this pest."

With the presence of Emerald Ash Borer in Livingston County, homeowners and city officials must consider lengthy and costly treatment or loss and replacement of valuable urban trees.

The town of Normal, where emerald ash borer was also detected in 2008, opted for removal and replacement. Parks supervisor for the town of Normal, Tom Cherry, says the Town of Normal has taken down over 500 ash trees in the 2013 including trees as old as 150 years. Cherry said the ash is fast growing and was a favorite landscape tree of the time making up about 20% of the city tree population. He says that there has been 100% detection of emerald ash borer when symptoms show. The removal of the ash tree has given the town of Normal the opportunity to plant a more diverse group trees and work with Ameren to plant trees that won't grow into power lines. Cherry says the town of Normal Emerald Ash Borer Removal and Replant Plan has been successful thus far.

It is not a rare site to see an ash tree on the parkway in Bloomington/Normal afflicted in some way by the infamous emerald ash borer. Symptoms start with branch tip die back and canopy thinning, then over time, the entire tree dies leaving behind naked bare eyesores and safety hazards. Another tell-tale sign is the sprouting, growth of new branches and leaves clustered along the trunk or the roots of the tree. When original branches are killed by the larvae (worm like) of the beetles that live and dine on the inside of the tree blocking major food and water transportation, the tree tries to compensate by sending out this new growth, called epicormic shoots.

How to manage EAB and its impact on trees remains difficult, and the dilemma does not come from if your prized ash has the problem, but rather how you intend to address the problem. Once emerald ash borer is detected in a community, it takes only a few years before a devastating population boom of EAB occurs and visible signs of its presence become obvious and widespread. For homeowners in Normal/Bloomington the population is high; some have opted for treatment to save the brilliant fall displays of their ash trees.

Guidelines for Treatment

-If more than 50% of your tree canopy remains your choices are:

Treat with yearly applications of a systemic chemical drench with the active imidacloprid for trees < 20 inch diameter at breast height. These applications are best made in the month of April. Systemic chemical drenches are taken up by the plant vascular tissue and when the insects feed on plants, they ingest these toxins and die. University of Illinois Extension Entomologists, Phil Nixon of the University of Illinois feel treatment will be needed for several years, possibly decades to preserve your ash.

Hire an arborist to make a trunk injection of pesticides containing imidacloprid, dinotefuran or ematmectin benzoate during the months of May and June. Emamectin benzoate will last up to two years, and may provide protection for three years.

Cut the tree down, remove the stump and plant a replacement. The larvae live in the outer layer of the tree and must be destroyed and not moved outside quarantine area. This option may be most environmentally sound option if we are to reduce the impact of emerald ash borer, prevent years of chemical use, and allows opportunities to plant a more diverse population of trees in Livingston County. However, everyone needs to be aware of the results of tree loss which include, but are not limited to; increased heating and cooling expenses, increase water use, decreased water absorption which leads to erosion and flooding, decreases in property value, and sentimental losses. Rule of thumb for most Horticulturists, always plant different species of trees than what your neighbors have.

Do nothing. If you're not treating or removing the tree, then the population will continue its spread across the country. Removal of trees can be costly and cumbersome to many.

Emerald ash borer is proving to be a major dilemma because making the most environmentally sound choice will come at high costs to homeowners and cities. It should also be noted that ash trees have numerous wildlife species depending on them at least sometime in their lifecycle and this will prove a great loss. For more information on Emerald Ash borer please visit

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